Gilead Sciences to donate possible coronavirus drug remdesivir for emergency use testing

More than 1,700 patients have taken the drug in an emergency use capacity

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Gilead Sciences plans to donate at least 140,000 treatment courses of its possible coronavirus drug, the antiviral remdesivir, after more than 1,700 patients have taken the drug in an emergency use capacity, Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day wrote in an open letter.

Gilead is working with regulators to "establish additional expanded access programs for remdesevir," O'Day wrote.

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"The programs enable hospitals or physicians to apply for emergency use of remdesivir for multiple severely ill patients at a time," he wrote. "These are patients who cannot take part in clinical trials and where the word 'emergency' is all too real for them."

"The safety and efficacy are not yet known, so while we feel the greatest sense of urgency in our work with remdesivir, we must take the responsible, ethical approach of determining whether it is indeed a safe, effective treatment," O'Day continued, adding that thousands of coronavirus patients are taking part in remdesivir clinical trials.

This July 9, 2015, file photo shows the headquarters of Gilead Sciences in Foster City, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Gilead has an existing supply of roughly 140,000 treatment courses of the drug and wants to scale up to 500,000 by October and 1 million by the end of 2020.

The drug is a daily intravenous infusion and is also available on an individual compassionate use basis for children and pregnant women.

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Remdesivir was used as an experimental ebola treatment.

Other drugs being investigated as coronavirus treatments include hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are often used in the treatment of malaria. New York began trials of the drugs in March.

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