Oxford Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases Peter Horby warned countries around the world may be frustrated at having restricted availability to the new drug. While no current coronavirus cure is available, the drug developed by US company Gilead Science has proven to reduce duration in hospital for COVID-19 patients. American officials have confirmed they have bought up all of the Remdesivir available for July and 90 percent of stocks for August and September.
While on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme with Martha Kearney, he warned of the expected frustration from countries that were involved in the drug trial but will have no access to the treatment.
Professor Horby said: “The results from the Remdesivir trial in the US show that it reduces the time you stay in hospital.
“We don’t have the full results yet to see if it actually improves survival which is the most important thing.”
Ms Kearney then asked Professor Horby what was his reaction upon learning the US had bought up most of the Gilead’s supply of Remdesivir.
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Coronavirus: Oxford Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases Peter Horby warned countries around the world may be frustrated at having restricted availability to the new drug.
He answered: “It is partially to be expected. Gilead is a commercial company, that is how they work.
“They are a US company so they will be under certain political pressures locally.
“It does raise two very important questions, what is a fair price for a drug and what is fair access for a drug.”
Professor Horby admitted these were common issues in the drug manufacturing industry.
However, he added that these issues were slightly different during a global pandemic.
Coronavirus cases worldwide as of 30 June 2020
He continued: “Those are common issues but they are particularly important in a global crisis, like this.”
The BBC radio host then questioned what would happen to the UK and their demand for the drug as it took part in some of the early trials.
Professor Horby replied: “This is part of the fair access question.
“The trial that gave the result that allowed Remdesivir to sell their drug wasn’t just done in the US.
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Coronavirus treatment: Professor Horby admitted price and availability were common issues in the drug manufacturing industry.
“There were patients participating from other European countries, including the UK.
“Internationally places like Mexico and other places were involved.
“I wonder now how they would feel knowing now that the drug is going to have restricted availability in their own country.
“I also question whether they would have volunteered for that trial if they had known that.”