HONG KONG – Japan has become the first country in the world to approve Veklury (remdesivir), Gilead Sciences Inc.’s experimental drug, to treat COVID-19. The fast approval was based on U.S. data and that country’s emergency use of the drug to tackle the pandemic, although it is unclear whether the drug is safe or effective for treating COVID-19.
In the rush to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, integral parts of the equation are being overlooked in the U.S., according to a whistleblower complaint filed this week by Rick Bright over his removal as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Even if millions of doses of vaccine are ready to go by January, as the NIH’s Anthony Fauci a few weeks ago said could happen, there may not be enough needles and syringes to deliver those doses.
Regulatory snapshots, including global drug submissions and approvals, clinical trial approvals and other regulatory decisions and designations: Amgen, Arch, Bridge, Cynata, Cytokinetics, Junshi, Pluristem, Redhill, Sesen, Takeda.
Clinical updates, including trial initiations, enrollment status and data readouts and publications: Amgen, Cytodyn, Daewoong, Five Prime, Flexion, Kadmon, Lundbeck, Millendo, Protagonist, Revance, Savara, Scholar Rock.
Just days after Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead Sciences Inc. gained emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for antiviral Veklury (remdesivir) for the treatment of patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19, Japan invoked its own exceptional approval pathway to give the drug the green light to treat patients with severe COVID-19.
Several companies have reported quarterly results over the past couple of days, and those offering testing for COVID-19 have seen impressive numbers. Standing out was San Diego-based Quidel Corp., whose numbers caught the attention of William Blair’s Brian Weinstein. Indeed, its $174.7 million in revenue far exceeded his organization’s estimate of $160 million, driven by influenza.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health recently announced a competitive grant opportunity for testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has been characterized as a “Shark Tank-like” program, and NIH director Francis Collins said in a May 7 Senate hearing that one of the criteria for awards is whether supplies can be made readily available for that test, the lack of which has been a significant impediment to testing in the U.S.
As states in the U.S. move past the initial push for tests to identify active COVID-19 infections, antibody tests are ramping up quickly to aid in disease surveillance and return-to-work screenings. The rush has spurred an explosion in serology tests, many hastily developed and of questionable value. However, as the pandemic enters its third month, some companies are offering high-accuracy tests with validated results.