Intended for healthcare professionals


Remdesivir: US purchase of world stocks sparks new “hunger games,” warn observers

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 03 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2661
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. London

With the US’s nationalistic hoarding, Jacqui Wise looks at the implications for vaccines and more effective treatments for covid-19

The US has bought up almost all the world’s supply of the antiviral drug remdesivir in a move that has important implications for access to medicines in the event of a more effective treatment or a vaccine against covid-19 becoming available.

The first 140 000 doses of remdesivir for covid-19 were supplied to drug trials around the world and have now been used up. The US has now bought more than 500 000 doses, which is all of Gilead’s production for July and 90% of that for August and September.1

“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorised therapeutic for covid-19,” said the US health and human services secretary, Alex Azar.

Priti Krishtel, cofounder of the organisation I-Mak, which campaigns to increase access to drugs, told The BMJ that the move was just the beginning of the new “hunger games.”

She said, “It signals that in the not so distant future all countries are going to be pitted against each other to get access to treatments and vaccines. High income countries and populations are poised to prevail at the direct expense of the poorest ones.

“Governments should not fall into this nationalism trap. If companies can’t meet supply …

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