- Gilead agreed to supply European Union countries with enough doses of the COVID-19 medicine remdesivir to treat about 30,000 patients.
- The July 28 contract is worth 63 million euros, or about $74 million, and calls for shipments to begin in early August, the European Commission said in a Wednesday statement announcing the agreement.
- European authorities are also making plans to secure more doses of the drug, which was the first authorized in the EU to treat the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Supplies are currently tight, with the U.S. reserving nearly all available doses in July.
Europe is jumping into what's become an international competition to gain access to remdesivir, sold by Gilead as Veklury. Both the EU and the U.S. have allowed the medicine to be used as an emergency treatment after early research showed the drug could help treat COVID-19.
The U.S. moved quickly to lock down supplies from the California biotech, announcing a deal in June to secure all of Gilead's production in July and 90% in both August and September. That amounted to more than 500,000 treatment courses of the medicine, on top of the hundreds of thousands of doses that Gilead had donated to the U.S. earlier in the year.
Gilead is racing to speed up production, but doing so isn't easy because of the complicated steps involved in manufacturing remdesivir. In April, the company said it had reduced the time required for production to between six to eight months, down from nine to 12 months previously.
Remdesivir can help patients hospitalized with COVID-19 recover more quickly, according to results first announced in April from a study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
A few days later, the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization for the medicine. And Gilead said it would donate its existing supply for clinical trials, compassionate use and expanded access programs.
Gilead shipped the last of the donated treatment courses in late June and then announced it would charge between $2,340 and $3,120 for a typical patient going forward. The pricing suggested the company would make a profit, potentially setting a standard for the industry.
The U.S. Health and Human Services department said hospitals would pay no more than $3,200 per treatment course under its agreement. The European Commission contract with Gilead works out to about 2,100 euros, or about $2,469, per treatment course.
The commission also said it will continue to monitor remdesivir's safety and has asked Gilead to submit final reports from studies to European regulators by December 2020. It expects further data from the company on remdesivir's safety and effectiveness in August.