7 things to know about Gilead, maker of the leading COVID-19 drug

Gilead Science's drug, remdesivir, has propelled the drugmaker into the national conversation about COVID-19 since it was shown to be effective in treating the virus in preliminary studies.

Seven things to know about Gilead: 

  1. Gilead was founded in 1987 and is based in Foster City, Calif. The company had 11,800 employees in 2019 and $22.45 billion in revenue.

  2. Daniel O'Day has been CEO of GIlead since March 2019. Mr. O'Day was No. 1 on Equilar's list of highest paid healthcare executives in 2019. He also sits on President Donald Trump's economic revival task force advising the White House on reopening sectors of the economy shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  3. Gilead has 25 approved drugs for diseases, including HIV, AIDS and cancer. Its hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, is the 17th most expensive drug in the U.S., with a monthly list price of $28,000. It has 42 drugs in development to treat viral diseases, inflammatory diseases, fibrotic diseases and cancer.

  4. Gilead has made several large acquisitions in recent years, including purchasing Menlo Park, Calif.-based cancer biotech, Forty Seven, for $4.9 billion in March and Kite Pharma, based in Los Angeles, in 2017 for $11.9 billion. The Kite Pharma acquisition was considered one of the worst pharmaceutical deals of the decade, as sales of Kite Pharma's drug Yescarta, were far less than what Gilead predicted.

  5. Gilead has been in a long legal battle with the CDC over the patent rights for its HIV pill, Truvada. CDC has sued Gilead, and Gilead has countersued, claiming the government agency breached its contracts with Gilead to obtain patents for the intellectual property behind Truvada.

  6. Gilead joined a consortium of 13 drugmakers in March designed to speed the development of drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for COVID-19.

  7. Gilead received emergency use authorization from the FDA May 1 to use its drug, remdesivir, as a treatment for COVID-19 after a study showed it helped patients recover faster. It's the only drug that has received such approval and has propelled Gilead to national headlines. Gilead developed remdesivir to treat Ebola, but the drug failed to work effectively against the disease in clinical trials. Since receiving emergency use authorization, Gilead has donated its entire supply of remdesivir, 1.5 million vials, to the government.

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