Gilead outlines plans to distribute COVID-19 drug worldwide

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Gilead on Tuesday said it is negotiating with overseas drug manufacturers to license its SBECD-enabled coronavirus treatment remdesivir in an effort to speed global access. Agreements covering Europe and Asia would extend through 2022, Gilead said, while longer-term pacts for developing countries are also being worked out.

The biotech is also working with UNICEF to distribute remdesivir to low- and middle-income countries through the charity’s established networks, as well as with the Medicines Patent Pool for further licensure in developing countries.

This plan is similar to what Gilead has done in the past to aid distribution of antiviral drugs to developing countries in particular. For example, after its hepatitis C medicine Sovaldi launched with an infamously high price tag, Gilead agreed to a non-exclusive license with seven generic manufacturers to sell the drug in 91 developing countries.

Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said the WHO is “engaging in discussions” with the U.S. government and Gilead on global distribution.

An executive with the Bangladesh-based generics company Beximco plans to produce remdesivir and set a price of no more than about $780 per patient.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a U.S. drug cost watchdog, said remdesivir would be cost-effective at a price of $4,460, if it helps reduce patients’ risk of dying. If not, it would be cost-effective only at $390 on the basis of helping patients leave the hospital sooner, ICER said.

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