President Donald Trump said Wednesday the U.S. government is sending Texas hospitals 500 cases of antiviral drug remdesivir as coronavirus deaths in the Lone Star State hit record highs.
The cases of the drug, produced by Gilead Sciences, will be enough to treat 3,200 patients, Trump said during a press briefing from Midland, Texas. The drug has been “very, very successful,” he added.
On Tuesday, Texas reported 200 new deaths, hitting a record-high average. Texas is one of 10 states, including Florida and California, that reported record-high average daily new Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, as determined by a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
There are currently more than 9,500 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 across Texas’ hospitals, a 62% increase from a month ago, according to updated data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. In recent weeks, hospitals across the U.S. have reported shortages of remdesivir.
There are no FDA-approved drugs for the coronavirus. The intravenous drug has helped shorten the recovery time of some hospitalized Covid-19 patients. In May, the FDA granted remdesivir an emergency use authorization, allowing hospitals and doctors to use the drug on patients hospitalized with the disease even though the drug has not been formally approved by the agency.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced June 29 a deal that gives the U.S. more than 500,000 treatment courses of the antiviral drug for U.S. hospitals through September. That represents 100% of Gilead’s projected production for July and 90% of production for August and September, according to the agency.
The U.S. government collects data from hospitals on the number of Covid-19 patients to determine how much of the antiviral drug should be sent to each state or region.
Gilead is selling remdesivir for $520 per vial in the U.S. to patients with private insurance and $390 per vial to federal insurance programs such as Medicare as well as foreign countries. The majority of patients treated with remdesivir receive a five-day treatment course using six vials of remdesivir, the company has said.