Gilead CEO says drug available to patients this week

Gilead Sciences‘ coronavirus fighting drug will be in the hands of doctors and patients as early as this week, the biotechnology company’s CEO said Sunday. 

“We intend to get [remdesivir] 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,” Gilead Sciences chairman and CEO Daniel O’Day told CBS’ “Face of the Nation.”

“We’ve donated the entire supply that we have within our supply chain and we did that because we acknowledge and recognize the human suffering, the human need here, and want to make sure nothing gets in the way of this getting to patients,” O’Day added. 

The deadly coronavirus has caused unprecedented societal and financial disruption in the U.S. and worldwide. Gilead’s antiviral drug — remdesivir— has been a source of hope for the more than 1.1 millions Americans diagnosed with the fast-spreading illness as well as market participants hoping for a swift reopening of the economy. 

Gilead released preliminary results from its clinical trial on its antiviral drug remdesivir last week, showing at least 50% of the COVID-19 patients treated with a five-day dosage of the drug improved. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases then released a study that showed Covid-19 patients who took remdesivir usually recovered after 11 days, four days faster than those who didn’t take the drug.

Following these successful trials, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the drug to treat Covid-19. That means the drug has not undergone the same review as FDA-approved treatments, but doctors will be allowed to administer remdesivir to patients hospitalized with the disease. All of the drug supply will go to the government to allocate around the nation. 

“What we will do is provide that donation to the U.S. government and they will determine — based upon things like ICU beds, where the course of the epidemic is in the United States — 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 in the United States,” O’Day added. 

Gilead expects to produce more than 140,000 rounds of its 10-day treatment regimen by the end of May and anticipates it can make 1 million rounds by the end of this year.

Shares of Gilead Sciences are up nearly 25% this year. 

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