In a surprising move, the US has announced it will be buying up nearly the entire global stock of remdesivir — the drug proven to be effective against coronavirus, for the next stock.
Releasing a press statement, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will be buying up virtually the entire produced stock of remdesivir from manufacturer Gilead till September.
The agency said it secured more than 500,000 remdesivir courses for US hospitals through September.
That represents all of Gilead’s projected production for July and 90 per cent of its production in August and September, in addition to an allocation for clinical trials, HHS said.
There are currently 25,73,393 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the United States, with several US states hitting new records for numbers of cases.
This will leave nearly no stock for the rest of the world over the coming months even as the World Health Organisation has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is only about to get worse.
On Monday, Gilead Sciences Inc priced its Covid-19 antiviral remdesivir at $2,340 per patient (approximately Rs 1.77 lakh) for wealthier nations and agreed to send nearly all of its supply of the drug to the United States over the next three months.
One of the few treatments shown to alter the course of Covid-19, remdesivir is expected to be in high demand. The intravenously administered medicine has won emergency-use authorisation in several countries and full approval in Japan after a clinical trial showed it helped shorten hospital stays.
The drug is believed to be most effective in treating patients earlier in the course of disease than dexamethasone, which reduced deaths in patients requiring supportive oxygen and those on a ventilator.
Still, remdesivir in its current formulation is only being used on patients sick enough to require hospitalization as a five-day treatment course.
Remdesivir had previously failed as an Ebola treatment and has not shown that it can reduce Covid-19 deaths.
India, too, has recommended the use of antiviral drug remdesivir in moderate stage of coronavirus.
Under emergency use authorization, remdesivir may be considered for patients in moderate stage requiring oxygen support.
It is not recommended for those with severe renal impairment and high level of liver enzymes, pregnant and lactating women, and those below 12 years, the Health Ministry has stated.
(with inputs from Reuters)