Gilead Will Test Inhalable Remdesivir as Covid-19 Treatment

Gilead Sciences is starting trials of an inhaled version of remdesivir, the drugmaker's candidate to treat covid-19.
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Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Report is starting trials of an inhaled version of remdesivir, the drugmaker's candidate to treat covid-19. 

After it received the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration, Gilead this week will start screening healthy volunteers for Phase I trials. It plans to begin studies in patients with the coronavirus in August. 

"If the trials are successful, this could represent important progress," Chief Executive Daniel O'Day said in an open letter Monday. 

The Foster City, Calif., company expects to have more than two million remdesivir treatment courses manufactured by the end of the year with "many millions more" produced by 2021. 

Remdesivir is currently given to patients through daily infusions. The version the company plans to test would be administered through a nebulizer - a device that administers medication through a mist inhaled into the lungs. 

If the trial is successful, an inhaled remdesivir "could potentially allow for easier administration outside the hospital, at earlier stages of the disease," O'Day said. 

Remdesivir, which has been administered around the world through emergency use authorizations and other access programs, was shown to shorten recovery time by an average of four days, according to a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases study. 

Gilead says that based on its knowledge of covid-19 so far, in the earlier stages the virus itself seems to be the primary driver of illness. 

In the later stages, the body's inflammatory response may cause some of the most life-threatening aspects of the disease. 

So Gilead is exploring whether remdesivir combined with other therapies would improve patient outcomes by treating both the viral and autoimmune aspects of the disease.

The company says it has donated its entire existing supplies of the drug through June and will "work to ensure that remdesivir is accessible and affordable to governments around the world."

Gilead shares at last check were off 2.5% at $75.58.