By the end of May, Gilead Sciences says, it could produce 140,000 doses of remdesivir -- a drug which has shown promise in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The company hopes that'll rise to a million rounds of the drug by the end of 2020 and “several million” doses by next year.
CNBC reports that clinical tests of the drug on 397 patients with severe, advanced cases of COVID-19 showed that a five-day dosage cycle led to improvement in at least half.
Daniel O’Day, CEO of Gilead, said on the company’s website: “We are very pleased with these results. They provide valuable information on treatment duration in this severe patient population and show the outcome we had all hoped to see.”
He also noted that the company’s studies show that patients received the same benefit from remdesivir if they took it for five days or 10, meaning that more of the drug could become available more quickly, allowing treatment of more patients.
The National Institutes of Health said initial results of a study on 1,063 patients with COVID-19 showed that they recovered 31% more quickly than those who received a placebo, or 11 days as compared to 15, Reuters reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, "The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," NBC News reported.
The antiviral medication is not the "total answer" to fighting coronavirus, but it's a "very important first step," and the Food and Drug Administration is likely to approve its use on an emergency basis quickly, Fauci said Thursday on NBC's "Today."
The FDA has not yet approved the drug. While Gilead is hoping it will issue an emergency approval, the company also hopes to receive normal regulatory approval.
A study in China, reported on in Lancet, found, that of 237 people with COVID-19, “remdesivir was not associated with statistically significant clinical benefits.”
However, Reuters noted that the study was considered “muddied” because it was stopped early; remarkably, researchers could not get a sufficient sample of patients.
Gilead (GILD) plans to work with international partners to speed up production of the drug, Reuters said.
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