01 Jul 2020
Posted in Coronavirus
Remdesivir production limitations mean non-US patients to wait until October 2020 at earliest
Following the news that the US secured virtually all available short-term stock of remdesivir;
Brian Hicks, Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:
“The US Government’s latest purchase will have wide-ranging implications for its own citizens, as well as for the broader global community. Firstly, as six doses of remdesivir are administered per treatment per patient, less than 100,000 patients in the US will initially be treated with it. According to GlobalData’s COVID-19 Dashboard, there are over 1.7 million active cases currently in the US. Combined with a concerning resurgence of cases in recent weeks, the majority of US patients in the next few months will fail to access the drug.
“Secondly, with Gilead’s recent remdesivir pricing announcement, some patients, regardless of whether under private insurance or certain government programs, will also struggle to even afford treatment. Many COVID-19 patients who lack health insurance or sufficient funds will view remdesivir treatment as a luxury.
“Thirdly, it will take almost three months for Gilead to produce the initial 500,000 approximate doses even just for US patients, meaning that the millions of COVID-19 patients outside the US will not have access to the drug until October 2020 at the earliest. Even when additional stocks become available, this is a clear ethical issue as it is possible that rich, developed nations will purchase all available stocks and thus leave poorer, developing nations to continue seeking treatments.
“As Gilead’s remdesivir production rate is projected to increase in the next few months, GlobalData expects hundreds of thousands of patients to be treated with it before a potential vaccine is developed. The accelerated recovery of these patients’ health will also benefit hospitals, as more beds, ventilators, and other medical devices will become available for other patients. Despite these benefits, Gilead should continue to address the availability and cost challenges, as this pandemic will need to be conquered by all countries cooperating and supporting one another.”