- The US government is on pace to run out of remdesivir drugs at the end of June and does not know when it will get more.
- The Department of Health and Human Services told CNN that Gilead, which makes the drug, will ship a final batch on the week of June 29.
- “We’re waiting to hear from Gilead what is their expected delivery availability of the drug as we go from June to July,” Dr. Robert Kadlec told the network.
- Remdesivir is the only widely approved COVID-19 treatment, and early studies found it helped mitigate the effect of the virus.
- All 1.5 million vials of remdesivir that Gilead has in stock are in circulation. Gilead says it will get new stocks of crucial raw materials to make more in July.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The US supply of the COVID-19 treatment remdesivir is on pace to run out at the end of June, the Department of Health and Human Services has said.
Dr. Robert Kadlec, an HHS official, told CNN that Gilead Sciences, which created the drug, is scheduled to send the government a final shipment the week of June 29, but after that the HHS does not know when it will get more.
“We’re waiting to hear from Gilead what is their expected delivery availability of the drug as we go from June to July,” Kadlec said.
The US government received 607,000 vials of the drug in early May, which it planned to use over six weeks on 78,000 patients in the worst-hit states.
Gilead has so far donated 1.5 million vials of the drug worldwide. That is all it has in stock so far.
It is uncertain when the US will be able to get more after the final batch runs out.
Gilead says it will be able to produce more remdesivir starting in July, when the raw materials needed to make the drug – which it had ordered in January – are expected to arrive.
The US Food and Drug Administration hurriedly approved remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment on May 1, and preliminary studies indicate it has a marked impact on the health of those infected.
Scientists found that the benefits appeared much greater for those with less severe symptoms, however, and aren’t sure whether it can reduce coronavirus deaths, STAT reported.
The drug was first manufactured in 2009 to treat victims of the Ebola outbreak but was unsuccessful.
It is clear that there is a shortage of the drug in the US. An investigation by The Wall Street Journal, published last Friday, found that the number of US patients requiring the drug outnumbered available supplies by two to one.
“There’s definitely not enough drug for the number of patients who we currently have and probably will have through August, when we may get more drug from Gilead,” Michael Ison, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University, told The Journal.
The drug, which is administered intravenously, is the leading hope for an approved COVID-19 treatment.
Remdesivir has been approved for use on coronavirus patients in the UK, India, Taiwan, and Japan, and regulators in Australia are evaluating the drug.
Gilead is yet to put a price tag on remdesivir, but the drug could generate $US7 billion in sales by 2022, the investment bank SVB Leerink said last week.
An alternative treatment, hydroxychloroquine, is another option under consideration and has been touted by President Donald Trump. The drug has FDA approval to treat malaria but has yet to be proved safe or effective as a coronavirus treatment.