Still not enough remdesivir to go around, Wall Street Journal reports

HHS has improved its distribution of remdesivir, the first drug to receive emergency authorization by the FDA to treat COVID-19, but the number of hospitalized patients still outnumbers doses of the drug, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

The first batch of remdesivir was given to hospitals with no intensive care units, and therefore no eligible patients, and to hospitals without the refrigeration needed to store it, meaning some had to be returned to the government. 

From May 4 to May 24, HHS distributed enough remdseivir to hospitals to treat about 25,250 people. During that time, about 58,000 people were hospitalized, according to data reviewed by the Journal

The Journal compared hospitalization data with HHS shipment data, but only included states with daily and cumulative hospitalization data available and assumed a median treatment course of 8.5 vials per patient. Patients typically get between six to 11 doses of remdesivir depending on how sick they are. 

Some hospitals said they got better access to remdesivir after early distribution issues were resolved, but they still haven't gotten sufficient supplies to treat all patients, according to the Journal

Daniel Kaul, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, told the Journal that for now hospitals can manage the shortage by rationing as long as new infection rates continue to decline or remain steady. 

An HHS spokesperson told the Journal that the agency doesn't have control over how much remdesivir is available and that it has distributed all of the remdesivir it has received from Gilead. It's expecting about 283,000 more vials of remdesivir from Gilead, the spokesperson said.

Once it receives more of the drug, HHS said it plans to ship about 97,000 doses to U.S. territories and federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Indian Health Service.

After the total donated supply of remdesivir is distributed, it's unclear whether Gilead will ship remdesivir itself or continue to work with HHS, the Journal reported. 

A Gilead spokesperson told the Journal: "Our supply of remdesivir will begin to increase in July, when we will have access to raw materials ordered in January."

Gilead has said it aims to make about 4 million doses between June and October and 5.5 million doses between October and December. 

Read the full article here.

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