Gilead Sciences Inc says it has ramped up production of its antiviral remdesivir and expects to produce millions of vials soon enough.
The California-based pharmaceutical company announced in a statement on Thursday that it has increased supply by more than 50-fold since January.
Officials say they expect to meet ‘real-time global demand’ beginning in October and anticipates producing more than two million treatment courses – equivalent to 12.5 million doses – by year-end.
Remdesivir has been at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, after the medicine was shown to shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial run by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Gilead Sciences says it has ramped up production its antiviral, remdesivir, by 50-fold since January. Pictured: A laboratory technician holds a box of remdesivir at Eva Pharma Facility in Cairo, Egypt, June 25
More than two million treatment courses – equivalent to 12.5 million doses – are expected to be made available by the end of 2020. Pictured: Nurses Catrina Rugar (second from left), Hannah Woodward (second from right) and Veronica Gomez (right) treat a coronavirus patient in Edinburg, Texas, July 20
Several countries, including the US, have approved the use of the treatment in severely ill patients.
However, there are concerns over supply of the drug, particular after the Trump administration revealed it had bought most of the entire world supply of remdesivir.
To amend this issue, Gilead announced it has entered voluntary licensing agreements with nine generic manufacturers around the globe.
The company says this will expand supply of remdesivir to 127 countries, most low-income and lower-middle income countries
‘Gilead has completed technology transfers with these companies, and they are beginning the manufacturing process,’ the statement read.
Remdesivir was developed to treat Ebola, the deadly fever that emerged in West Africa in 2014.
While it was unsuccessful in treating Ebola, the drug appears to interfere with the ability of the coronavirus to copy its genetic material.
In April, the NIH released results from a study that found remdesivir helped patients recover 31 percent faster.
Patients being given the drug improved after 11 days, four days faster than those who didn’t receive the medication.
However, remdesivir has not improved survival according to preliminary results after two weeks of follow-up. Results after four weeks are expected soon.
It comes a little more than a month after Gilead announced it will charge different prices for different patients taking remdesivir.
For people covered by government healthcare in the US, the company will charge $390 per vial or $2,340 for a five-day course.
For US private insurance companies, the cost will be $520 per vial, or a total of $3,120 per patient.
The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors, Gilead said.
‘We’re in uncharted territory with pricing a new medicine, a novel medicine, in a pandemic,’ chief executive, Daniel O’Day, told The Associated Press.
‘We believe that we had to really deviate from the normal circumstances’ and price the drug to ensure wide access rather than based solely on value to patients, he said.
ince January, Gilead has taken multiple steps to ramp up production and rapidly build supply of our investigational COVID-19 treatment Veklury® (remdesivir), preparing for potential global demand at risk, in recognition of the lengthy manufacturing timeline. In addition to process improvements that have shortened the manufacturing timeline to six months, Gilead has expanded its global network of both internal manufacturing sites and external organizations, including partnering with industry peers, to add manufacturing capacity around the world. Our Veklury manufacturing network now includes more than 40 companies in North America, Europe and Asia.
By working together in a coordinated fashion, this network of partners is supporting us to meet global patient needs. We have increased supply more than 50-fold since January and anticipate being able to meet real-time global demand starting in October. We plan to produce more than two million treatment courses by the end of the year, and we anticipate producing several million more in 2021, if needed.