Gilead aims to expand remdesivir output for COVID-19, posts flat 1st-quarter results

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(Reuters) – Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O), maker of the experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir, on Thursday said it will work with international partners to expand production of the potential COVID-19 treatment.

FILE PHOTO: Gilead Sciences Inc pharmaceutical company is seen after they announced a Phase 3 Trial of the investigational antiviral drug Remdesivir in patients with severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Oceanside, California, U.S., April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The company said it still expects to have more than one million remdesivir treatment courses manufactured by December, “with plans to be able to produce several million treatment courses in 2021.”

By the end of next month, Gilead said it should have manufactured more than 140,000 treatment courses of the drug that is given by infusion in the hospital.

Gilead also reported flat first-quarter earnings and its shares fell 2% in extended trading.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health on Wednesday said preliminary results from its trial of remdesivir showed that COVID-19 patients given the drug recovered 31% faster than those given a placebo. Data from a trial run by Gilead, also unveiled on Wednesday, showed similar clinical improvements in patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of whether they received five or ten days of treatment.

While the data was less than stellar, they were hailed by U.S. health officials as highly significant since it clearly had an effect on the disease for which there are currently no approved treatments of vaccines.

More detailed results of the U.S. study are expected next month.

On Thursday, The European Medicines Agency said it has started a ‘rolling review’ of data on the use of Gilead’s antiviral drug for the treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by the highly contagious virus. A rolling review is one of the regulatory tools available to the agency to help speed up its assessment of a promising experimental medicines during a public health emergency.

Gilead said its first-quarter profit was largely flat from a year ago as a 5% increase in sales was offset by higher costs, including spending related to development of remdesivir.

Gilead posted adjusted earnings of $1.68 a share on revenue of $5.55 billion in the quarter. Wall Street analysts, on average, forecast a profit of $1.57 on revenue of $5.45 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES.

First quarter sales of Gilead’s HIV drugs rose to $4.1 billion from $3.6 billion a year earlier.

Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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