Gilead Sciences will have adequate supplies of remdesivir for the treatment of coronavirus globally by the end of October, CEO Daniel O & # 39; Day told CNBC on Friday.
The comments came shortly after final peer-reviewed data from Gilead's large-scale Remdesivir study was published. The antiviral drug was found to recover Covid-19 patients hospitalized an average of five days faster. In critically ill patients who received remdesivir, recovery was accelerated by seven days.
"These results are meaningful. They will definitely help patients around the world who are unfortunate enough to come to the hospital to get better, and I am very pleased to say we are well cared for," said O & # 39; Day at "Squawk" box. "
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also found that remdesivir contributed to a significant reduction in death rates in patients who were in the early stages of oxygen support. However, the study did not find a statistically significant reduction in mortality in the 1,060 patients in the study.
"The sooner you treat the better in the hospital and you can prevent people from ever getting into the stages of the disease where the risk of death is very high," said O & # 39; Day. "This is a drug that reduces virus replication in the body, which is important earlier in the illness and earlier in your hospitalization, which is where it has its greatest effect."
Remdesivir is given through an IV in a hospital. Gilead is working on formulating an inhaled version.
Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb later said in "Squawk Box" that the study results were "strong".
"They confirm what we knew that remdesivir is active in this disease," he said. "It's not a homemade drug. It's a weakly active antiviral drug, but it has a treatment effect, so it makes sense."
"I think when combined with the antibodies that should be on the market soon, based on the data we've seen, this is a pretty effective pre-vaccine treatment regimen," added Gottlieb, who served in the Trump administration from May 2017 to April 2019.
The drug received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of seriously ill Covid patients in May. In late August, the FDA expanded approval to all hospitalized coronavirus patients. Regulators in around 50 countries have allowed Remdesivir to receive Covid-19 treatment.
The drug was among the multiple treatments President Donald Trump received after announcing last Friday that he was infected. In addition to remdesivir, Trump received an experimental antibody cocktail from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the steroid dexamethasone.
In a White House video released Wednesday evening, Trump called the Regeneron treatment a "cure," although the company only released early data showing its potential effectiveness.
Regeneron has applied for emergency approval from the FDA for its antibody cocktail. Eli Lilly has also filed an emergency filing with the FDA for his antibody drug.
Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday he believed these treatments would be approved for use in an emergency. Antibody treatments work differently than remdesivir. Instead of stopping the virus from replicating, antibodies attach to the virus that is present and try to neutralize it.
"These two mechanisms could indeed complement each other and we will investigate them," said O'Day. "We're going to be a lot smarter … In six months, twelve months we'll be able to tweak this type of therapeutic paradigm and vaccination paradigm for the best benefit of patients."
– Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing startup Tempus, and the biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has signed a manufacturing agreement with Gilead to manufacture Remdesivir. Gottlieb is also co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean's Healthy Sail Panel.