Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O & # 39; Day told CNBC on Monday that the company is continuing to explore new ways to use its remodivir treatment for coronavirus in patients, possibly outside the hospital.
"We're not done with remdesivir," O'Day said on Squawk Box, the day after the biopharmaceutical company announced a $ 21 billion acquisition of Immunomedics that will improve Gilead's cancer treatment availability.
Gilead received emergency approval for remdesivir from the Food and Drug Administration in May, which allows it to be used in people who were seriously ill with Covid-19 in hospital. The antiviral drug, given by intravenous infusion, has been shown to reduce the recovery time of some hospitalized patients.
Reuters reported last week that some major hospital systems in the US are restricting the use of remdesivir to people who are seriously ill. In late August, the FDA expanded its emergency clearance to allow all hospitalized Covid-19 patients to receive the drug. Remdesivir costs hospitals $ 3,120 for a typical U.S. patient with commercial insurance, while the state cost is $ 2,340.
O & # 39; Day said Monday that Gilead began studies in September to investigate the use of IV remdesivir in outpatient settings, which could make it possible to "keep people out of the hospital in high-risk cases."
He noted that the California-based company was also testing the drug that had previously been studied as a potential Ebola treatment for use in inhaled form for Covid-19 patients. These processes started in July.
"If you could make it to the place where you could get this replication of the virus in your lungs without IV, we also hope that you can potentially treat outside of the hospital and prevent patients from ever going into the lungs." Hospital, "said O & # 39; Day, who became Gilead's CEO in March 2019.
Regarding regulatory approval of these potential uses, O & # 39; Day said giving remdesivir to people by IV infusion in an outpatient setting such as a nursing home is "likely to be a shorter amount of time".
"The inhaled version, remember, we're moving at the speed of light in the industry. In fact, we've had the first of our gold standard trials in three months since this virus first appeared in January," he said. "It takes a little longer with a new formulation of a drug. So we are in the early stages of testing for [inhalative use]."
Gilead will try to speed up emergency approvals if possible, he added, but suggested that it would likely be an event in 2021 as more data is available on the effectiveness of remdesivir in inhaled form.
"Depending on the results we see with these early-stage tests in the coming months, we may move these into later studies later this year, early next year," he said. "We just have to see. We want to follow science here. We don't want to get any further."
There are no FDA-approved drugs to treat the coronavirus. In addition to finding treatments to reduce the severity of the disease, companies and governments around the world are busy developing a vaccine against Covid-19.
Globally, more than 29 million people are infected with the coronavirus, and at least 924,814 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US has more than 6.5 million infections and more than 194,000 deaths.