A lab technician visually inspects a filled vial of investigational coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California, March 11, 2020.
Gilead Sciences | via REUTERS
Gilead Sciences has struck a licensing agreement with five generic drugmakers to make antiviral drug remdesivir for 127 countries, not including the United States, the company announced Tuesday.
Drugmakers Mylan, Cipla, Ferozsons Laboratories, Hetero Labs and Jubilant Lifesciences will manufacture remdesivir for distribution in "low-income and lower-middle-income countries, as well as several upper-middle- and high-income countries" that face health-care obstacles amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company said.
The deal is "royalty-free" until the World Health Organization says the Covid-19 outbreak is no longer a global health crisis or "until a pharmaceutical product other than remdesivir or a vaccine is approved to treat or prevent Covid-19, whichever is earlier," the company said.
The Food and Drug Administration on May 1 granted emergency use authorization for Gilead's remdesivir drug to treat Covid-19, which has infected more than 4 million people across the globe in a little over four months, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The intravenous drug has helped shorten the recovery time of some hospitalized Covid-19 patients, new clinical trial data suggests. Without other proven treatments, physicians will likely be considering its use to treat the coronavirus.
Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day told CNBC earlier this month that the company was working to expand its supply chain after learning from other serious outbreaks such as influenza.
The company has said it expects to produce more than 140,000 rounds of its 10-day treatment regimen by the end of this month and anticipates it can make 1 million rounds by the end of this year. Gilead said it will be able to produce "several million" rounds of its antiviral drug next year.