Gilead Sciences in talks with pharma companies in Pakistan, India to start remdesivir production

Updated 07 May 2020

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Vials of experimental coronavirus  treatment drug remdesivir are capped at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California, US. — Reuters/File
Vials of experimental coronavirus treatment drug remdesivir are capped at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California, US. — Reuters/File

US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences on Tuesday said that it was in talks with drug companies in Pakistan and India to start remdesivir production.

Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral drug used to treat patients with the coronavirus and was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Last month, Gilead said the drug had helped improve outcomes for patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and provided data suggesting it worked better when given earlier in the course of infection.

According to a statement on its website, Gilead Sciences "is negotiating long-term voluntary licenses with several generic drugmakers in India and Pakistan to produce remdesivir for developing countries. Gilead will provide appropriate technology transfers to facilitate this production".

The statement adds that the company's goal "is to make remdesivir both accessible and affordable to governments and patients around the world" and it plans to continue the production of the drug for "Europe, Asia and the developing world through at least 2022".

'Significant, positive effect in diminishing time to recovery'

A clinical trial of the drug remdesivir in the United States showed that patients recovered about 30 per cent faster than those on a placebo, in the first proof of successful treatment against the new disease.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Anthony Fauci, the top US epidemiologist who oversaw the study, told reporters on Friday.

Fauci likened the finding to the first retrovirals that worked, albeit with modest success, against HIV in the 1980s.

However, remdesivir failed in trials against the Ebola virus and a smaller study, released last week by the World Health Organisation, found limited effects among patients in Wuhan, China, where the illness was first detected in December.