Remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury, is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication developed by the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. It is administered via injection into a vein. As of 2020, remdesivir is being tested as a specific treatment for COVID-19, and has been authorized for emergency use in the US, India, Singapore, and approved for use in Japan for people with severe symptoms. It also received approval in the UK in May 2020, however, it was going to be rationed due to limited supply. It may shorten the time it takes to recover from the infection.
Coronavirus Cases: 2,779,953
As the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States nears the three million-mark, the country has purchased almost the entire worldwide stock of remdesivir — one of the two drugs being used in the treatment of coronavirus patients.
U.S. deals to buy the medication
The US health department announced on Tuesday it had agreed to buy 500,000 doses for use in American hospitals.
Tests suggest remdesivir cuts recovery times, though it is not yet clear if it improves survival rates. Gilead did sign a licensing deal in May for production outside the US but it is still in its early stages.
“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for Covid-19,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
A course of treatment in the US will cost $2,340 (£1,900).
Nine companies can make the drug under licence outside the US for distribution in 127 mostly poorer countries, and the cost is lower. But the project is still in its early stages.
Additional quantities are being manufactured for use in clinical trials.
But critics say the US move to buy up so much stock from Gilead itself undermines international co-operation on COVID, given that other countries have taken part in trials of remdesivir, originally an anti-viral against Ebola.
The US is among several countries to approve remdesivir for use in combating Covid-19.
The European Union is expected to give approval this week, according to Germany’s health ministry.
Germany says it has sufficient supplies of the drug and expects to be able to acquire more from Gilead in the future.
In the UK, the Department of Health said it had enough to treat every National Health Service patient who needed it.
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