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Pfizer agrees to fabricate Gilead's coronavirus drug Remdesivir

A lab technician visually inspects a filled vial of the drug remdesivir used to treat coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California.

Gilead Sciences | about REUTERS

Pfizer has agreed to manufacture and supply the antiviral drug Remdesivir from Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical company said on Friday.

The multi-year deal will help efforts to increase supplies of the intravenous drug, which has been shown to help reduce hospital recovery time for some coronavirus patients, the company said. Pfizer will manufacture the drug at its McPherson, Kansas facility.

"It was clear from the start that no company or innovation would be able to end the COVID-19 crisis. Pfizer's agreement with Gilead is a prime example of members of the innovation ecosystem working together to deliver medical solutions deliver, "Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. "Together we are more powerful than alone."

According to the Johns Hopkins University, there are no FDA-approved drugs for the coronavirus, which has infected more than 19 million people worldwide and killed at least 715,163 people in about seven months.

For the past few months, doctors have been using remdesivir on Covid-19 patients. In May, the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency approval to remdesivir, which allowed hospitals and doctors to use the drug on hospitalized Covid-19 patients, even though the drug was not officially approved by the agency.

Pfizer declined to comment and said it would not disclose any terms and conditions. Gilead did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A day earlier, Gilead said it would be able to make enough of its antiviral drug remdesivir to meet global demand due to the October pandemic.

In addition, Gilead plans to produce more than 2 million treatment cycles of the drug by the end of the year and expects to produce "several million more" by 2021. The range of the drug has increased more than fivefold since January. The production network now includes more than 40 companies in North America, Europe and Asia.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced a contract on June 29 to provide the US with more than 500,000 treatment courses for the antiviral drug for US hospitals through September. That equates to 100% of Gilead's planned production for July and 90% of production for August and September, the agency said.

The deal comes off as Pfizer continues its efforts to create a potential vaccine against the coronavirus. Last week the company announced that it had entered a late stage with about 30,000 attendees.

If successful, Pfizer and its vaccine development partner BioNTech expect to submit it for final regulatory review as early as October. They plan to deliver up to 100 million cans by the end of 2020 and around 1.3 billion cans by the end of 2021.

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