Some very hopeful news appeared on the coronavirus horizon on Friday with the drugmaker Gilead stating that the drug Remdesivir will be available to any hospitalized patient in the U.S., and they expect to be able to satisfy global demand by the end of October.
Telling CNBC interviewers that there was an “ample supply” of the drug, Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said there will be enough supply globally to treat patients who need it by the end of October.
The results of trials which were released on Thursday showed that hospitalized Covid-19 patients recovered an average of five days quicker after being given the drug — and for those who were severely ill, the recovery period was speeded up by seven days.
O’Day stated “These results are meaningful. They’ll definitely help patients around the world who have the misfortune of entering into the hospital to get better, and I’m really pleased to say that we have ample supply.”
The Remdesivir study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. While undergoing trials, it was also found that the drug significantly reduced the death rate for those who were in the “early stages of receiving oxygen support.” but overall there was no significant reduction in mortality in the 1,060 patients as a whole.
O’Day explained the usage of the drug, saying “The earlier you treat, the better in the hospital and you can prevent people from ever even going onto those stages of the disease where the risk of dying is very high.”
“This is a medicine that works by reducing the viral replication in the body, which is important earlier in the disease and earlier in your hospital stay, which is why it has its greatest effect there.”
Remdesivir can only be administered intravenously, in a hospital setting, but the drug company is hard at work coming up with an inhalable version of it.
So far, a total of 50 countries around the world have approved Remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment after it received emergency approval in May of this year. Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told interviewers the study’s results were “strong.”
“They confirm what we knew, which is remdesivir is active in this disease,” he explained. “It’s not a home-run drug. It’s a weakly active antiviral, but it has a treatment effect, so it is meaningful.”
Gottlieb added “I think combined with the antibody drugs, which should be coming onto the market soon, based on the data that we’ve seen, this is a pretty effective treatment regime in advance of a vaccine.”
The FDA allowed any hospitalized patient to receive Remdesivir in late August, was among the several treatments President Donald Trump received after he tested Covid-19 positive.
He also took a drug from the firm Regeneron, which works as an antibody treatment, attaching to the virus and neutralizing it, along with Remdesivir, which stops viruses from replicating. In his interview, Gottlieb expressed his belief that both such treatments will be approved for emergency use.
Addressing the use of these two types of treatments, O’Day said “These two mechanisms actually could be complementary and we will be studying those. We’re going to be a lot smarter. … In six months, 12 months, we’re going to be able to fine-tune this kind of therapeutic paradigm and vaccine paradigm to the best benefit of patients.”