LONDON, 31 July (APM) - Gilead is not relying on Covid-19 treatment remdesivir for growth, according to the company's chief executive Daniel O'Day.
Instead, the company is looking to its core business of HIV, its growing immuno-oncology business, including its Kite subsidiary, and immunology to support its long-term future, said O'Day on Thursday during a call with analysts and investors to discuss Gilead's second-quarter financial results.
"Hopefully for the world we'll get to a stage where the pandemic is much more predictable and remdesivir is playing a role," said O'Day. "But we're not relying upon [the drug] for our mid-to-long-term growth in the company.
"So we believe that rather the continued emphasis on our core business to make sure that we not only continue to lead with HIV today but also tomorrow with the next generation of medicines combined with what we have in our internal pipeline. And then growing our overall immuno-oncology business, both Kite and outside of Kite."
Pricing below value
Remdesivir has taken a lot of the company's headlines in recent months after showing that it can shorten the recovery time for patients with serious Covid-19. It has been granted conditional approval in Europe, Japan, Canada and Singapore under the brand name Veklury and has emergency use authorisation in the U.S.
Gilead last month said it has set a price for governments of developed countries of $390 per vial, or $2,340 for a five-day treatment (APMHE 67943
O'Day said on Thursday's call that the company is working to ensure "broad access" to the drug in the second half of 2020, including ensuring a fair price.
"We feel the full weight of our responsibilities with remdesivir and that applies to the price we set following the donation period.
"We price remdesivir well below the value it provides to enable access at this critical time and ensure that we continue to meet our responsibilities in the future, with further investment in remdesivir and in research that will help us to prepare for any future pandemics."
Gilead has signed deals for the drug, including a U.S. government contract that secured more than 500,000 doses - most of the company's supply to the end of September. And this week the European Union bought 30,000 doses (APMHE 68350
O'Day said that after September Gilead expects to have enough remdesivir to meet real-time global demand.
He also explained that the European Commission will be responsible for all decisions regarding allocation among member states. He added that the remaining supply of remdesivir will be allocated to other countries with significant rates of Covid-19 infection.
"We will see a significant increase in supplies in October as expected," he said, according to a transcript of the call
on Seeking Alpha.
Gilead's chief financial officer Andrew Dickinson said later in the call that Gilead expects to manufacture 2 million or more treatment courses cumulatively in 2020.
"Our revenue guidance reflects that we expect to sell 1 million to 1.5 million treatment courses of remdesivir this year. We expect that remdesivir demand will be skewed towards the U.S. in the third quarter and that the proportion of ex-U.S. sales will increase in the fourth quarter and beyond."
Remdesivir has further potential too, said O'Day, including its use earlier in Covid-19 patients to prevent them from having to go to hospital.
"We're really pleased at every piece of data in our hands or in other people's hands has been consistent; consistent about the effect in terms of reduction in hospital space, consistent around the ability to use it earlier in hospitals space and get even bigger impacts," he said.
And this will continue regardless of whether there is an effective vaccine or not as vaccines are never 100% effective and are never 100% utilised, said O'Day.
"So I think it will be hand in glove with vaccines."
The drug is currently only available as an infusion into a vein but Gilead is also beginning a Phase I study investigating an inhaled version of remdesivir that uses commercially available nebulizers as well as a subcutaneous version, said Merdad Parsey, Gilead's chief medical officer.
"We're also supporting several clinical trials exploring potential combinations," he said.