Washington — Following the Food and Drug Administration's authorization of the antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use as a coronavirus treatment, the head of Gilead Sciences said Sunday he expects the medicine will be delivered for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the coming days.
"We are now firmly focused on getting this medicine to the most urgent patients around the country here in the United States," Daniel O'Day, CEO of Gilead, said on "Face the Nation." "We intend to get that to patients in the early part of this next week, beginning to work with the government, which will determine which cities are most vulnerable and where the patients are that need this medicine."
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced Friday that remdesivir, produced by Gilead, received an emergency use authorization for the treatment of patients in the hospital with COVID-19.
A recently completed study led by the National Institutes of Health found that remdesivir shortened the recovery time for some coronavirus patients by four days. The drug is administered by IV through either a five-day treatment course or 10-day treatment course depending on the patient. O'Day said Gilead scientists are working to determine whether there are other ways the drug can be delivered.
Gilead has donated the entirety of its supply of remdesivir, O'Day said, which is roughly 1.5 million vials, or 100,000 to 200,000 treatment courses depending on the length of treatment.
"We did that because we acknowledge and recognize the human suffering, the human need here and want to make sure that nothing gets in the way of this getting to patients," he said.
The federal government will now determine where to send the drug, using criteria such as ICU beds and the course of the epidemic in the U.S., O'Day said.
"They will begin shipping tens of thousands of treatment courses out early this week and be adjusting that as the epidemic shifts and evolves in different parts, in different cities here in the United States," he said.
Not only will remdesivir be available to COVID-19 patients in the U.S., it will also be exported to other countries once they make regulatory decisions, according to O'Day. He said that Gilead expects to have more supply of remdesivir in the second half of 2020 "to serve the suffering and the human needs out there."
"We've been working very closely with the U.S. government and with other governments around the world," O'Day said. "In terms of the allocation question, I think we're aligned with the US government to both serve the patients here in the United States and then to be able to also make sure, as a global company based here in the United States, that we can serve other countries around the world as well."