The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Saturday it will permit state health departments to send out Gilead Sciences, Inc.’s remdesivir drug to fight the coronavirus.
HHS said in a statement that the distribution of the drug will be made possible because of a donation from Gilead. Remdesivir, which received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will be given to coronavirus patients in some of the hardest hit areas of the country, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and more.
The state departments of health will distribute the doses to the appropriate hospitals.
Candidates for the drug must be on ventilators or require supplemental oxygen.
Gilead has already committed to supplying 607,000 vials of remdesivir over the next six weeks in the U.S.
The company’s drug has shown promise in helping patients infected with the coronavirus and data shows it helped reduce the lengths of hospital stays.
Gilead Chief Executive Dan O’Day said in late April that his company would donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir, but HHS clarified Saturday that that was a global figure and that 607,000 would be distributed through the U.S. agency.
HHS’s announcement comes as the agency was pressed by lawmakers over the distribution of remdesivir after internal errors resulted in thousands of the doses going to “less impacted counties” while others were unable to obtain any.
“Congress and the public need to know whether HHS is making its distribution decisions in backroom deals or is relying on data and evidence to ensure that potentially life-saving drugs reach the patients who need them,” Massachusetts Democrats Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyLawmakers press HHS for answers on coronavirus drug distribution The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Rep. Hurd says China engaged in global disinformation campaign; US unemployment highest since Great Depression The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump calls into ‘Fox & Friends’ MORE and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Esper escalates war of words with Warren, Democratic senators | Senate panel plans to skip DHS, VA spending bills Lawmakers press HHS for answers on coronavirus drug distribution Democrats ask for investigation of DOJ decision to drop Flynn case MORE and Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyLawmakers press HHS for answers on coronavirus drug distribution House Democrats unveil legislation to forgive student loans for health care workers Paid sick days and paid leave are health and economic recovery requirements MORE wrote to Vice President Pence, who is overseeing the administration’s coronavirus response, and HHS Secretary Alex Azar.