Gilead Sciences Inc said on Tuesday it was in discussions with chemical and drug manufacturers to produce its experimental COVID-19 drug remdesivir for Europe, Asia and the developing world through at least 2022.
The drugmaker did not disclose details about the companies.
Drugmakers are rushing to develop treatments and vaccines for the highly contagious coronavirus that has killed over 255,000 people worldwide, infected more than 3.6 million and ravaged economies globally.
Of more than 100 vaccine candidates in development, 10 have reached the clinical testing stage so far, according to California-based think tank Milken Institute.
With several countries across the globe reeling from the virus outbreak, interest in remdesivir has been high as there are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
Gilead last week received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for using remdesivir as a treatment against COVID-19, after the drugmaker provided data showing the drug had helped COVID-19 patients.
Gilead also said on Tuesday it was negotiating long-term licenses with several generic drugmakers in India and Pakistan to produce remdesivir for developing countries and that it would provide technology to aid the production.
One of Bangladesh’s largest drugmakers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, will start remdesivir production this month, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a senior company executive.
Remdesivir was previously available only for patients enrolled in clinical trials or those cleared to get the drug under expanded use and compassionate use programs.
Gilead, which has already said it will donate the first 1.5 million doses of remdesivir, also previously said it was focused on making the drug accessible and affordable to as many people as possible upon approval.
Gilead said it was working to build a consortium of manufacturing partners to help maximize global supply of the drug, which requires scarce raw materials and specialized manufacturing capabilities with limited global capacity.
The company also said it was in advanced talks with UNICEF to deliver remdesivir using the agency’s distribution networks.
French drugmaker Sanofi SA said it plans to enroll thousands of subjects globally for trials of an experimental vaccine for the coronavirus it is developing with GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and that it has started to discuss advanced purchases with several countries.
Sanofi is working on two vaccine projects to prevent COVID-19 – the illness caused by the new coronavirus – and said it is exploring several manufacturing options, including fresh collaborations to ensure it can meet demand, if either program is successful.