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US buys 90% of global remdesivir stock for the next 3 months



  • The US has struck a deal with Gilead Sciences to purchase more than 90% of the global supply of remdesivir.
  • Remdesivir has been shown to help moderately ill patients recover more quickly from COVID-19, and is only of the only treatments that has been found to be as effective. 
  • HHS secretary Alex Azar called it an “amazing deal,” but it leaves many countries with few options.
  • The treatment, which was previously donated by Gilead, has now been priced at $2,340 per course for developed nations, including the US. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US has purchased more than 90% of the world’s supply of remdesivir, the only proven treatment for COVID-19, which will leave little for the rest of the world for at least the next three months. 

Gilead Sciences, the US-based company that makes the drug, agreed to sell more than 500,000 treatment courses to the US until September, which is almost the entire amount it has the ability to produce.

Remdesivir, which was originally developed to treat Ebola, has been shown to help moderately ill patients recover more quickly from COVID-19, and was granted temporary FDA approval for that purpose in early May. 

Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Alex Azar said: “President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19,” according to a statement released by the department

Generic alternatives for the drug exist, but patent law means that only low- and middle-income countries can produce their own. They are prevented from selling it to richer nations, like those of Europe, Sky News reported.

Gilead will sell all of its supply for July to the US, as well as 90% of the supply produced in August and September, the HHS announced.

donald trump alex azar

President Donald Trump and HHS Director Alex Azar.

Associated Press/Evan Vucci

Before a vaccine is widely available, the remdesivir deal will leave many countries scrambling for an alternative. Vaccine trials for the coronavirus are still ongoing, and the earliest point at which a version may be available for emergency use is fall or winter, as Business Insider’s Andrew Dunn reported

In the UK, dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid, has also had encouraging results in treating the coronavirus.  

But the remdesivir deal prompted calls for a more equitable system of global distribution.

Prof. Peter Horby, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford in the UK told the BBC: “It does raise two very important questions: What is a fair price for a drug and what is fair access to a drug, and those are common issues but are particularly important in a global crisis like this.”

He also said that the deal was partly to be expected, given that Gilead Sciences is a US company, the BBC reported. 

The US is currently seeing a massive surge in its coronavirus cases since, with several states reporting unprecedented numbers of infections since lockdowns were eased. On Tuesday, 48,000 new cases were reported in a single day, setting a new record for the fourth time in a week.  

Florida women wearing masks amid coronavirus

Women in Florida wear masks to protect against the coronavirus. The state has seen one of the worst resurgences of the virus.

Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Gilead has set the price of a course of a remdesivir treatment — around 6 vials — at $2,340 for developed countries, including the US, according to a statement from CEO Daniel O’Day. It had previously been donating its supply.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams estimated the company will generate around $1 billion in profit for 2020 with the new price of remdesivir, Business Insider’s Andrew Dunn and Lydia Ramsey Pflanzer reported

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