American biopharmaceutical company Gilead has announced steps to expand the availability of remdesivir, a key therapeutic medicine used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, in India.
The recent surge of COVID-19 cases in India is having a devastating impact on communities and has created unprecedented pressure on health systems, Johanna Mercier, chief commercial officer of Gilead Sciences said on Monday.
The company announced that it was providing its voluntary licensing partners technical assistance, support for addition of new local manufacturing facilities and donation of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) to rapidly scale up the production of remdesivir.
Remdesivir is approved in India for restricted emergency use for the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalised with severe disease.
In addition to providing support to its licensees to expand their local manufacturing capacity, Gilead will also donate at least 450,000 vials of Veklury (remdesivir) to help address the immediate needs of Indian patients, the company said.
We are committed to doing our part to help tackle this crisis. Our immediate focus is to help address the needs of patients in India who may benefit from remdesivir as quickly as we can by working together with the government, health authorities and our voluntary licensees, Mercier said.
All seven of Gilead's licensees based in India have significantly accelerated production of remdesivir by scaling up their batch sizes, adding new manufacturing facilities and/or onboarding local contract manufacturers across the country, it said.
While these efforts are expected to increase the availability of remdesivir in the coming weeks, Gilead said that it will also donate at least 450,000 vials of Veklury to the government of India to help ease the immediate need for treatment.
Gilead's voluntary licensing program for remdesivir, established in May 2020, has already enabled access to the drug for more than 2.3 million people in more than 60 low and middle-income countries.
The program, which builds on Gilead's pioneering voluntary licensing model for its HIV and viral hepatitis medicines, provides long-term licences to nine manufacturers, seven of which are based in India, to enable access to remdesivir in 127 countries.
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