Gilead Sciences donates its limited supply of antiviral drug remdesvir

Posted at 4:28 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 09:55:30-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Donated vials of remdesivir will be distributed globally after the antiviral drug received an Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently.

Remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences, has shown promising results in early clinical trials when it comes to treating severely ill COVID-19 patients, but right now there's not enough of the drug to treat every hospitalized patient in need.

“I was admitted to the hospital on March 24th I was released on April 10th,” said San Diego resident, Troy Kahle.

"Within two days I was in ICU on a ventilator I spent 10 days intubated," he said. "My doctor did not expect me to make a couple of times during my hospital stay."

Although there is still no definitive answer as to what saved Kahle's life after he was hospitalized with COVID-19, he credits remdesivir.

“I certainly believe it did,” he said. “And just the amount of care I did receive at Kaiser Permanente, the staff was just fantastic.”

Kahle’s partner said he was gravely ill with a grim prognosis the night doctors put him on remdesivir as part of a clinical trial.

“I was in a medically induced coma so I don't remember a whole lot about the whole process,” Kahle explained.

He said he still had some seizures after starting the treatment, but soon he was off of life support and out of the hospital.

“Thankful that I was able to receive it early and got such great care,” he said. “There's sadness that people may die because they can't get this drug.”

Gilead Sciences is donating its current supply of 1.5 million vials of the drug worldwide.

About 607,000 vials will arrive in the U.S. over the next six weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

Those vials are expected to treat 78,000 patients.

The federal government is coordinating the distribution of remdesivir, according to Gilead Sciences.

An HHS press release explains that state health departments will then distribute the doses to hospitals most in need.

So far New York has received the most vials, although it is not nearly enough to treat all of its hospitalized patients.

Doctors across the country have expressed their frustrations over the limited supplies.

“To have a drug that could save your patient's life and not have it be available for treatment, it's got to be horrible,” said Kahle.

A spokesperson for Gilead Sciences tells 10News the company has, “proactively scaled up manufacturing of remdesivir to increase available supply as rapidly as possible in anticipation of potential future supply needs. We have increased supply nearly 30-fold since January and our goal is to produce more than 1 million treatment courses by year-end and several million in 2021, if required.”