Hospitals in the United States have turned down about a third of their allocated supplies of the Covid-19 drug remdesivir since July as a need for the costly antiviral wanes.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed on Friday that some hospitals are still buying the Gilead Sciences GILD.O medicine to build inventory in case the pandemic accelerates over the winter. But current supplies are adequate, in part because they are limiting use to severely ill patients.
The Food and Drug Administration has allowed more liberal remdesivir use, but 6 out of 8 major hospital systems contacted by Reuters said they were not using it for moderate cases.
The slowdown suggests that a shortage of the drug is over and threatens Gilead's efforts to expand use of remdesivir, which it sells under the brand name Veklury in some countries.
An HHS spokesperson confirmed on Friday that between July 6 and September 8, state and territory public health systems accepted about 72% of the remdesivir they were offered. Hospitals in turn purchased only about two-thirds of what states and territories accepted, as previously detailed to Reuters by Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
The government-led distribution of remdesivir will expire at the end of September. Hospitals said they have little information on availability after that.
Remdesivir was first authorized by the FDA in May for emergency use in COVID-19 patients hospitalized and on oxygen support after data showed it helped shorten hospital recovery time.
The agency last month expanded use to hospitalized patients who do not require oxygen support, based on data published in the JAMA medical journal showing that the drug provided a modest benefit for those patients.
There is no evidence that Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital for a day or two due to an underlying health issue, like diabetes or high blood pressure, would benefit from the drug.