The United States under the administration of President Trump has bought up almost the entire global supply of remdesivir, one of two drugs used to treat coronavirus.
Remdesivir, which had been tested by the United Kingdom, was developed to treat Ebola and produced almost exclusively by US pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences – and it has been priced at $2,340 (£1,892) per patient in wealthier nations.
The company has agreed to send nearly all of its supply of the drug to the US over the next three months.
Dr Andrew Hill, a senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University, said, “This means remdesivir will not be available for use on patients in the UK and Europe until October.”
He added that “This deal that’s been struck by America means that people with COVID-19 in the UK can’t get access to these treatments that would get them out of hospital quickly and might improve their chances of survival.”
“So far, we know that for the next three months there will be no supplies of remdesivir – America will take the drugs and we won’t have access to them. That’s the case in the UK and Europe.” Dr Hill continued.
UK patients took part in the clinical trials that showed that the drug worked.
Dr Hill said, “A lot of drugs haven’t worked, so I think the people in Britain deserve something in return from the United States.”
He added that “We have to have equality between countries. We have to have the ability of UK health authorities to access these drugs in return for taking part in these studies and people risking their own health.
“Remdesivir is a drug which gets people better faster, gets them out of hospital, it might improve survival.”
Dr Hill also said the drug was the only thing they have, and if it can’t be gotten from the US, they are not allowed to get it from Indian factories that are making it.
He further explained that low and middle-income countries can produce generic versions of the drug, but are unable to sell them to Europe because Gilead has a patent for it.