Oct. 8 (UPI) — Gilead Sciences announced Thursday that it’s selling 500,000 doses of remdesivir to European countries as many experience a spike in cases of COVID-19.
The company, which produces the antiviral under the name Veklury, said it reached a deal allowing the European Commission to purchase the drug for 36 countries over the next six months.
Gilead says it ramped up its production of remdesivir in recent months after studies indicated it showed shortened recovery times for some coronavirus patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took control of the distribution of the drug in May after giving it emergency approval for COVID-19 treatment.
Gilead resumed control of distribution earlier this month. The company said it’s on track to produce more than 2 million treatment courses of the drug this year.
“Supply of Veklury is expected to meet global demand by the end of this month, enabling the purchase of Veklury both to treat patients and to support national stockpiling of the medicine for current and future surges of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.
Clinical results for the antiviral have been mixed. A new National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine said treatment with remdesivir shortened recovery time by five days compared to a placebo, and reduced mortality by 70% at Day 29 in patients with low-flow oxygen.
Another study in August showed the drug doesn’t improve outcomes in people hospitalized with moderate pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
Researched published last month showed that remdesivir administered in combination with baricitinib — treatment for rheumatoid arthritis — can reduce the recovery time for people with COVID-19 when compared to people treated with just the antiviral.
Originally developed to treat Ebola virus, remdesivir works by slowing the production of enzymes that play a key role in the replication of viruses, including coronaviruses, according to Gilead Sciences.
President Donald Trump received remdesivir as part of his own treatment for COVID-19.