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US bulk buys the stock of Gilead’s drug Remdesivir, a proven drug for COVID-19

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Remdesivir

US is going all the way to buy next three months of projected production of Remdesivir from US manufacturer Gilead for the treatment of COVID-19. On Tuesday morning, the US Department of Health announced that they have reached an agreement to buy 500,000 doses to be used in the country’s hospitals.

The Trump administration has really gone “America First” – their slogan – in this case. “President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for Covid-19” said Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar in a statement.

One single course of Remdesivir in US is going to cost approximately $2,340. Trials and research on Remdesivir have proved that the drug successfully reduces recovery time but the effect on mortality has not been established yet.

In May, Gilead had signed a deal for drug production outside the US but it is still in initial stages. Nine companies have been given licensed authorization to manufacture the drug outside US. These drugs manufactured outside the country would be distributed to mostly 127 poorer countries, with lowered cost of drug being available to people. More quantities of Remdesivir are also being manufactured additionally, chiefly for trial purposes.

Critics across the world are saying that the step by US government of buying bulk produced drugs for Covid-19 treatment from Gilead undermines the whole concept of international cooperation while combating the pandemic. Moreover, the fact that many other countries took part in the large-scale Remdesivir trial makes the action by US in poor taste.

“The trial that gave the result that allowed Remdesivir to sell their drug wasn’t just done in the US. There were patients participating through other European countries, in the UK as well, and internationally, Mexico and other places,” Professor Peter Horby of Oxford University told BBC.

The legal scenario

A law in US, with UK having similar law, states that if a national manufacturing company successfully manufactures a drug, US can lawfully ban the export to other countries. Keeping that in mind, Gilead being a US-based company, a country which has maximum cases of coronavirus, Trump administration buying the bulk manufactured drug is well within law, citing the present situation in country a public health emergency.

Nonetheless, US having bought the drug in stock for its use will put a strain on countries who could have used the available doses to help critically ill Covid-19 patients.

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