Gilead in talks to expand COVID-19 hopeful remdesivir supply chains with outside partner

Gilead Sciences scored a massive win earlier this week with its first positive data readout for investigational candidate remdesivir in treating patients with severe COVID-19. Gilead already has its own supply of the drug humming in anticipation of high demand, but opportunities are out there for a partner to join in. 

Eyeing a limited supply of raw ingredients for remdesivir, Gilead is taking a cautious approach. 

With positive data in hand and already amped-up production, Gilead is working with "large sophisticated companies" to develop parallel supply chains that could help develop remdesivir on a much larger scale, CFO Andrew Dickson told analysts during a first-quarter earnings call Thursday. 

The possible licensing applications for remdesivir would allow for "separate end-to-end manufacturing supply chains," Dickinson said, but Gilead is keeping a close eye on whether those agreements would endanger a limited supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients for the drug. 

"We want to make sure that we don't do anything to impact our supply chain given that that is the quickest route (to) getting product to patients who need it all around the world," Dickinson said. "It's too early to give you any specific guidance or to tell you where we're going to land on it."

All told, Gilead predicted that it could spend up to $1 billion this year on R&D and manufacturing for remdesivir, with the lion's share of that total dedicated to pumping up supply of the drug. That bolstered supply could be enough to treat 1 million patients by the end of the year, CEO Daniel O'Day told analysts. 

Gilead is also working to create a "global consortium" of chemical manufacturers to help speed up production even further, O'Day said. 

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