With Great Potential For Profit Comes Great Responsibility: Will Gilead Emerge A Hero Or Villain?
Gilead has a well-documented history of charging high prices for lifesaving therapies. But beneath the bright shine of the global spotlight -- with millions of lives possibly in the balance -- the company could help shift the narrative around the drug industry.
With Remdesivir, Gilead Finds Itself At Strategic Crossroads, With Its Reputation (And Far More) At Stake
Never in modern times have such high hopes for millions of lives rested on one single company. As the world struggles to fight off Covid-19, Gilead Sciences has been thrust in the spotlight with remdesivir, the antiviral drug that on Friday the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization to treat coronavirus patients... But the 33-year-old biopharma company has a well-documented history of charging high prices for lifesaving therapies. And its next steps — notably how much it decides to charge for remdesivir — could determine whether Gilead, and even the drug industry itself, is lauded as the hero of the coronavirus pandemic or condemned anew as price gougers. (Florko and Garde, 5/5)
Were Researchers Wrong To Move The Goalposts On Remdesivir? In The End, It May Not Have Mattered
Last Wednesday, Gilead announced that its drug, remdesivir, sped the time it took patients to recover from Covid-19. Full data from the study were released by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in a statement at 1 p.m. By 3:35 p.m., Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh, had noticed a problem. Was there any explanation, he asked in a tweet, for why the study’s main goal had been changed just weeks before? (Herper, 5/5)
In other news on drug and treatments —
The Response To Covid-19 Is Critical. It's Also Making Clinical Trials Harder
In March, a team of Chinese scientists studying whether the antiviral remdesivir was effective against Covid-19 ran into a problem. “Stringent public health measures used in Wuhan led to marked reductions in new patient presentations,” the researchers wrote. Without enough patients enrolled, the study ended early. Last month, another Chinese team reported that a trial of the drug hydroxychloroquine had bumped into similar issues. “The recruitment of eligible patients was unexpectedly difficult,” the scientists wrote, explaining they had failed to reach their enrollment goal. (Joseph, 5/5)
The New York Times:
Avigan May Cause Birth Defects. Japan’s Pushing It For Coronavirus.
As President Trump was extolling the promise of a malaria drug in the desperate hunt for coronavirus treatments, one of his top global allies was selling the world on his own “trump card,” a pale yellow pill that he said could be crucial to fighting the pandemic. This supposed beacon of hope is an antiviral medicine known as Avigan, and its most vocal proponent is Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. Mr. Abe has pushed the homegrown drug in news conferences and in meetings with world leaders, including a call with Mr. Trump and the other heads of the Group of 7. (Dooley, 5/4)
Without Showing Data, CytoDyn Touts Covid Drug — While CEO Sells Stock
While Nader Pourhassan, the chief executive of drug maker CytoDyn, filed his intention to sell nearly $17 million of his company’s shares last Thursday, he was simultaneously pitching the same CytoDyn stock to outside investors, claiming its lead drug is saving the lives of patients with Covid-19. Pourhassan’s plan to sell more than 4.8 million shares, disclosed in an SEC filing on Friday, amounts to more than half of his ownership stake in CytoDyn. The timing of the sale is troubling and should concern, even anger, any investor who’s bought CytoDyn stock based on Pourhassan’s coronavirus marketing pitch. (Feuerstein, 5/4)