American biotech company, Gilead Sciences (GILD), the pharmaceutical manufacturer of antiviral drugs used in treatments for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and influenza has developed a promising treatment to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The antiviral developed for Ebola treatment, Remdesivir, has been trialled on a small number of patients, but Gilead advises on their COVID-19 global health page  that the drug has not yet been approved anywhere for use:

“Gilead is mapping out options to make access to investigational Remdesevir more widely available through appropriate channels for emergency use should it demonstrate the potential to be a safe and effective treatment option based on results of the preliminary clinical trials”.

An official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said Remdesevir is “the only drug right now that we think may have real efficacy” against COVID-19.

Gilead’s stocks jumped four percent this week after the optimistic announcement, but in 2019 the company was in a legal battle with the United States government.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC)  asserted that the company refused patents for Truvada and Descovy, which are both used in post-exposure prophylaxis (Pep) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and that Gilead has benefited billions of dollars in the sale of the two drugs from taxpayer-funded research.

In the United States, the cost of HIV medications by Gilead can drastically range depending on healthcare cover, costing up to $14,000USD per year. In Australia, a 30-day supply is covered by the co-payment of $39.50 or $6.40 concession.

It is not yet known how or when the Remdesevir drug will be made available. In the meantime, the public is advised to continue thoroughly washing hands regularly and maintain social distancing.

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