(Reuters) – Gilead Sciences Inc expects supply of its potential COVID-19 drug remdesivir to exceed two million courses by year-end, the company said on Monday, more than double its previous target of 1 million.

The company also said it planned to start trials of an easier-to-use inhaled version of the antiviral drug, currently administered only intravenously, by August.

Remdesivir is at the forefront in the fight against the virus after the drug helped shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial. But producing and supplying billions of doses remain major concerns as the fast-spreading respiratory illness overwhelms healthcare systems around the world.

“We will continue to collaborate globally to ensure sufficient worldwide supply,” Gilead Chief Executive Officer Daniel O’Day said in a statement. (bit.ly/3eqpEJ9)

Two major Indian drugmakers – Hetero Labs and Cipla Ltd – on Sunday gained approval to begin selling their generic versions of remdesivir in the country. Another Indian drugmaker Glenmark expects the treatment to be priced at 5,000 to 6,000 rupees ($66-$79) for a 100 milligram dose.

Remdesivir has not been priced yet in the United States.

Gilead’s expectations of two million courses suggests sales of between $2 billion and $3 billion between 2020 and 2021 at a price of $1,000 to $2,000 per course, according to Jefferies analyst Michael Yee.

FILE PHOTO: Gilead Sciences Inc pharmaceutical company is seen after they announced a Phase 3 Trial of the investigational antiviral drug Remdesivir in patients with severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Oceanside, California, U.S., April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Gilead had previously said it expected to produce one million courses of remdesivir by 2020.

The company also announced plans for a “next wave of clinical trials”, including studies in pregnant women.

Gilead said an inhaled formulation of the drug would be given through a nebulizer, which could potentially allow for easier use outside hospitals.


Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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