Frustrated doctors across the U.S. had demanded that the administration explain how it was doling out remdesivir, after some hospitals started receiving shipments — but many facilities in hard-hit areas were left out.
“The administration provides zero explanation for why and how the initial shipments were made,” said Rachel Sachs, an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis who studies food and drug regulation.
A senior HHS official told POLITICO earlier this week that the government hadn’t finalized its distribution plans before it started handing out the drug this week. On Friday, as the backlash mounted, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that Deborah Birx, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, would be working on the remdesivir distribution effort.
HHS has now revealed where those first shipments went: 565 cases to hospitals in New York, 117 cases to Massachusetts, and 94 cases to New Jersey. Indiana received 38 cases, while 33 went to Virginia, 30 to Rhode Island and 7 to Tennessee. Each case contains 40 vials of remdesivir, according to HHS.
The latest wave of shipments began Thursday, and included another 110 cases for New Jersey, 140 cases for Illinois and 40 cases for Michigan. Maryland and Connecticut each received 30 cases, and Iowa got 10.
The FDA authorized emergency use of remdesivir this month after a government-sponsored trial found that the drug shortened recovery time for coronavirus patients.
Drugmaker Gilead has said it is not involved in deciding which U.S. hospitals or states get remdesivir shipments. Yet at least one health system, Northwell Health in New York, told POLITICO that Gilead recommended that its 23 hospitals receive the drug.
Northwell Health’s chief medical officer, David Battinelli, said that the system received several thousand vials of remdesivir this week.