Alex Azar, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services boasted of President Trump’s “amazing deal” that has bought the world’s entire supply of Gilead Sciences’ Remdesivir, a drug that some research suggests could speed the recovery of coronavirus patients.
The U.S. government will buy 100% of the California-based pharmaceutical company’s production in July, 90% of output in August and September in a move that should provide enough Remdesivir to treat around 80,000 patients. The deal between the U.S. government and Gilead means that low and middle-income countries can make their own generic version of Remdesivir, but European, and other, countries will be unable to buy, or produce it. Remdesivir sells for $390 per vial, or $2,340 per course of treatment sparking a backlash from consumer groups over its pricing pointing to $70 million of U.S. taxpayers’ support for Gilead’s development of the drug.
Gilead in May donated its entire stockpile of the drug, which was originally developed to treat hepatitis and respiratory viruses, to the U.S. government but doctors have faced having to ration the limited supply for the most needy patients, according to CNN.
Early research shows that the drug speeds recovery time for patients severely ill with coronavirus to 11 days from 15 days for those in the control group.
“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. “To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs Remdesivir can get it.
The Federal Drug Administration authorized emergency approval in May for the antiviral drug in May after early research showed that it could help patients infected with coronavirus recover faster.
The battle for access to a potentially crucial treatment plays out against the backdrop of Europe’s recovery from the pandemic, a surge of new infections in the U.S., and President Donald Trump’s reflexive nativism. The Trump administration’s trade war and diplomacy has repeatedly taxed even some of the U.S’s most long standing alliances, and the White House’s attempt in March to lure German company CuraVac to produce a coronavirus vaccine exclusively for Americans with financial incentives caused uproar.
The U.S. has been the world’s worst affected nation and as 47,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Tuesday, the worst single day since the start of the pandemic, according to the New York Times.
I joined Forbes as the European News Editor and will be working with the London newsroom to define our coverage of emerging businesses and leaders across the UK and Europe. Prior to joining Forbes, I worked for the news agency Storyful as its Asia Editor working from its Hong Kong bureau, and as a Senior Editor in London, where I reported on breaking news stories from around the world, with a special focus on how misinformation and disinformation spreads on social media platforms. I started my career in London as a financial journalist with Citywire and my work has appeared in the BBC, Sunday Times, and many more UK publications. Email me story ideas, or tips, to firstname.lastname@example.org, or Twitter @_iainmartin.