The CEO of Gilead Sciences says U.S. hospitals should get enough of its drug to fight COVID-19 to treat as many as 200,000 patients this week.
Remdesivir, the first possible scientifically proven treatment for battling COVID-19, will become available for U.S. hospitals in the coming week, says the CEO of the biotech company producing the drug.
Daniel O'Day, CEO and chairman of Gilead Sciences, provided the update Sunday on the CBS News program "Face the Nation." He said that the Foster City, California-headquartered company had donated 1.5 million vials to the U.S. government, enough to treat 150,000 to 200,000 patients.
Federal health officials will outlay the drug "based on things like ICU beds, where the course of the epidemic is in the United States," O'Day said. "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 cities."
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Last week, early results from a global study conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found patients given the experimental drug remdesivir recovered faster and may be less likely to die. Patients who received remdesivir had a 31% faster recovery time than those who received a placebo, the study found. Some evidence suggests the mortality rate was lower in those who got the drug, too, but it was not as statistically significant, researchers say.
While not a "knockout," White House coronavirus task force chief Dr. Anthony Fauci said the study results were "a very important proof of concept."
President Donald Trump added of the test results, “But certainly . . . it's a positive, it's a very positive event.”
Gilead said it was ramping up production and aims to have more than 140,000 treatment courses by the end of May, more than 500,000 by October and more than 1 million by December.
The company is also attempting to develop other delivery methods for the drug, which is given via an IV and blocks an enzyme the virus uses to copy its genetic material. Gilead hopes to develop a shot that can be given outside o the hospital "or possibly an inhaled version," O'Day said.
"This medicine is not suitable for oral administration because of the way it is metabolized, but there are ways we can look at formulations potentially that would get us to earlier patients and patients outside the hospital setting," he said.
Contributing: Elizabeth Weise of USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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