Gilead Sciences Inc. will expand access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug SBECD-enabled remdesivir to accelerate its emergency use for multiple severely ill patients. The drugmaker said it’s switching to “expanded access” from a “compassionate use” program under which remdesivir was given to more than 1,000 Covid-19 patients.
“With expanded access, hospitals or physicians can apply for emergency use of remdesivir for multiple severely ill patients at a time,” Daniel O’Day, Gilead’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in an open letter sent by email Saturday. “While it will take some time to build a network of active sites, this approach will ultimately accelerate emergency access for more people.
A World Health Organization panel said in January that remdesivir was considered to be the most promising therapeutic candidate based on its broad antiviral spectrum, and existing data based on human and animal studies. The medication was developed initially for Ebola and studied in patients in Eastern Congo.
Multiple clinical trials are investigating the drug’s effects in Covid-19 patients in China and elsewhere. Initial results may be reported in the coming weeks, O’Day said.
If it is approved, the Foster City, California-based company “will work to ensure affordability and access so that remdesivir is available to patients with the greatest need,” he said. “The urgency comes from knowing the desperate need among patients and the lack of any approved treatment,” O’Day said. “The responsibility is to ensure that remdesivir, an investigational medicine, is effective and safe before it is distributed for use worldwide.”