The American biotech company Gilead Sciences Inc. is donating 1.5 million doses of a potential coronavirus cure to hospitals across the nation.
The experimental antiviral treatment remdesivir has already been accepted for use on coronavirus patients by the European Union’s health regulator.
Remdesivir is used to stop infected cells from reproducing nearly any virus — though the success with treating COVID-19 has only been anecdotal and not yet subject to full testing. It is currently undergoing clinical testing on patients with the virus.
In a statement released on Saturday, Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said that they will be expanding access to the drug beyond the clinical trials. They will be offering it to severely ill patients who have few options remaining, as well as children and pregnant women, at no cost.
“In addition to the expanded access programs, we continue to provide remdesivir on an individual compassionate use basis for children and pregnant women. More than 1,700 patients have now been treated through these programs,” the statement said. “Remdesivir is still an investigational medicine and has not been approved by regulatory authorities anywhere in the world. The safety and efficacy are not yet known so while we feel the greatest sense of urgency in our work with remdesivir, we must take the responsible, ethical approach of determining whether it is indeed a safe, effective treatment. This is why multiple clinical trials for remdesivir are underway, involving thousands of patients with COVID-19 across the world.”
The company has greatly ramped up their production efforts over the past two months and now has a supply of 1.5 million doses which could potentially treat 140,000 patients. The drug is given through daily intravenous infusions.
“Having a potential treatment in our hands comes with significant responsibility. Providing our existing supplies at no charge is the right thing to do, to facilitate access to patients as quickly as possible and in recognition of the public emergency posed by this pandemic,” O’Day’s statement continued.
Though there are no approved treatments for the coronavirus at this time, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency-use of two anti-malaria drugs last week.