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US buys most of the world’s stock of COVID-19 drug remdesivir

Published on 01/07/20 at 11:11am
U.S. Army photo by Jason W. Edwards

The US has bought most of the world’s stock of the drug remdesivir which is one of the only drugs proven to treat COVID-19.

The drug is the first to be approved for coronavirus patients in the US, and the first 140,000 doses have been used up by clinical trials around the world. The Trump administration has now bought 500,000 doses which is 90% of Gilead’s, the drug’s manufacturer, supply for July, August and September.

Alax Azar, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said: “President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorised therapeutic for Covid-19.  To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it. The Trump administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for Covid-19 and secure access to these options for the American people.”

This move by the US has prompted criticism as it leaves little for the rest of the world. Dr Andrew Hill, a senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University, told The Guardian: “They’ve got access to most of the drug supply, so there’s nothing for Europe. This is the first major approved drug, and where is the mechanism for access? Once again we’re at the back of the queue.”

“Imagine if this was a vaccine, that would be a firestorm, but perhaps this is a taste of things to come.”

A way that other countries could get around the US buying up Gilead’s branded supply is through buying generics from companies in India or Bangladesh, where Gilead’s patent is not recognised.

Conor Kavanagh

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