The move by the Trump administration to secure all stocks of remdesivir, one of the first drugs approved to treat the COVID-19 coronavirus, has raised concerns from experts in the UK, as the courses bought by Washington are all that the manufacturer will be able to offer to the world for the next three months, the Guardian reported.
“They’ve got access to most of the drug supply [of remdesivir], so there’s nothing for Europe. This is the first major approved drug, and where is the mechanism for access? Once again we’re at the back of the queue”, said Dr Andrew Hill, senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University, cited by The Guardian.
He criticised the White House for its unilateral action, urging all to “imagine this was a vaccine”, hinting that if that were the case the issue would become a “firestorm”.
Hill’s comments come as the Trump administration secured 500,000 doses of remdesivir, which is everything produced in July and 90 percent of what is designated for August and September. Since the drug is patented by the Gilead company, no other company is permitted by trade law to produce it.
“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19,” said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.
“To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it. The Trump administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for COVID-19 and secure access to these options for the American people”.
The deal alarmed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who warned that “it is in both of our interests to work collaboratively and cooperatively to keep our citizens safe”.
Apart from the steroid dexamethasone, remdesivir is the only drug approved as a treatment against COVID-19. Now that Trump has made the ungenerous move of securing all stocks of the drug for the US, dexamethasone, explored 60 years ago, remains cheap and available – and perhaps the only accessible option for the rest of the world before the arrival of a vaccine.
The US has been said to be making moves toward vaccine securing, too, as Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said that Washington has the right for the largest pre-order, if the company’s vaccine is proven effective, “because it’s invested in taking the risk”. These remarks received strong backlash from the French government, and later his words were refuted by the Sanofi director, Serge Weinberg.
The United States has so far registered over 2.6 million COVID-19 cases, with over 127,000 dead, according to the most recent data.