- The U.S. government received 607,000 free vials of remdesivir in mid-May
- Fears of how much the drug will cost now are taking hold
- The drug’s supply is slated to be replenished later this year
There is only one drug currently approved to treat coronavirus patients. And we’re running out of it.
The donated supply of remdesivir will run out in hospitals by the end of June. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary for preparedness and response Dr. Robert Kadlec told CNN that manufacturer Gilead Sciences is making more, but it’s unclear when the supply will begin to be replenished. The drug was given emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in May, after a study showed the drug could shave several days off an average hospital stay for coronavirus patients.
“Right now, we’re waiting to hear from Gilead what is their expected delivery availability of the drug as we go from June to July,” Kadlec told CNN. “We’re kind of not in negotiations, but in discussions with Gilead as they project what the availability of their product will be.”
While the U.S. government is helping Gilead with supply chain issues that have plagued nearly every industry during coronavirus, the company has made it clear that there will not be enough remdesivir to go around by July and August. With the freely donated supply running out, concerns that Gilead will charge a high price on the drug have taken hold, as noted by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), chair of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee.
“The price that Gilead can charge, as with any pharmaceutical in America, appears to be the sky’s the limit—whatever sick and dying people will pay,” Doggett told CNN.
More than 600,000 vials of remdesivir were received by the U.S. government in early May. Business Insider reports that the supply was to be administered to 78,000 patients over six weeks in the hardest-hit parts of the country. Gilead has donated all 1.5 million vials of its remdesivir stock worldwide since the pandemic began. The company has said that it will have more than a million vials ready by December.