Access and R&D

Period. 15 - 21 September 2020

The U.S. FDA last month approved an Emergency Use Authorization for Remdesivir, an experimental broad-spectrum antiviral. Initially developed by Gilead Sciences for the treatment of Ebola virus and despite mixed clinical findings, Remdesivir has since been approved to treat severe cases of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. An article in BMJ, however, reports on major shortages, in part due to limited supply and its steep price. While Gilead claims it has temporarily licensed the production of the antiviral on a non-cost basis to nine generic manufacturers, as Gilead’s CEO blames the shortages on global supply chain disruptions. Critics, however, argue that countries not covered by Gilead’s licence would still have to procure Remdesivir directly from Gilead at themselves at US$2,340-3,120 for one course of treatment. Supply issues are also exacerbated by advanced economies placing advance purchase commitments that limit access in lower income countries, as the authors of the BMJ paper urge greater compulsory licensing. The former head of the CDC also urged local, regional and national authorities to accelerate preparation to ensure efficient vaccine distribution.

This development is part of the digest;