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Pfizer Agrees to Manufacture Gilead’s Potential Coronavirus Drug Remdesivir

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 8/7/2020 Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder
A Pfizer sign hangs on the outside of their headquarters © (MARIO TAMA/STAFF VIA GETTY IMAGES) A Pfizer sign hangs on the outside of their headquarters

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced on Friday that it will manufacture remdesivir, Gilead's antiviral drug that aims to treat COVID-19.

The multi-year agreement will scale-up the supply of the drug, which Pfizer will make at its McPherson, Kansas facility. Gilead has been under pressure to increase supplies of the drug, which is one of just two that studies have shown to be effective against coronavirus.

"From the beginning it was clear that no one company or innovation would be able to bring an end to the COVID-19 crisis," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. "Pfizer's agreement with Gilead is an excellent example of members of the innovation ecosystem working together to deliver medical solutions."

No drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19, but remdesivir has been granted an emergency use authorization. Trial results for the drug showed that it reduced the median recovery time for virus patients by four days. However, it did not have a statistically significant impact on mortality rates.

Gilead announced in June that a five-day course of the drug will cost $2,340 in all developed countries except the U.S., where it will cost $3,120 for the typical patient with private insurance. Some criticized the company's price and accused it of trying to profit off of the pandemic.

But remdesivir isn't the only drug showing positive signs. Dexamethasone, an inexpensive and widely available steroid, reduced deaths by a third in ventilated patients and a fifth in patients receiving just oxygen, according to a trial across hospitals in the U.K.

The National Institutes of Health this week launched two trials for a potential therapeutic from drugmaker Eli Lilly. One of the trials will examine mild to moderate cases in nonhospitalized patients.

While remdesivir and dexamethasone target patients in later stages of the disease, leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said this week that "there's a need for interventions early on."

Meanwhile, Pfizer is working on developing several vaccines, including one that entered its combined phase two/three trial last month.

Copyright 2020 U.S. News & World Report

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