EU Buys Remdesivir to Treat 30,000 COVID Patients, Seeks More

July 29, 2020 Updated: July 29, 2020

BRUSSELS—The European Union’s executive said on Wednesday it had agreed to buy a limited supply of the COVID-19 medicine remdesivir from U.S. drugmaker Gilead to address the short-term needs of European patients, and hoped to be able to order more later.

The anti-viral is the only drug so far authorized in the EU to treat patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19, but nearly all available supplies have already been bought by the United States.

Gilead Sciences Inc pharmaceutical company
Gilead Sciences Inc pharmaceutical company is seen after they announced a Phase 3 Trial of the antiviral drug Remdesivir in patients with severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Oceanside, California, U.S., on April 29, 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

The EU Commission has agreed to pay 63 million euros ($74 million) to buy enough doses to treat about 30,000 patients, it said in a statement.

The United States signed a deal with Gilead in June for more than 500,000 courses of treatment, which accounts for most of the company’s output through September.

The price paid by the EU appears to be in line with exchange rates at the end of June when Gilead set a $2,340 price per patient for wealthier nations, although most patients in the United States are being charged a higher rate.

A lab technicians holds the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug "Remdesivir"
A lab technicians holds the drug “Remdesivir” at Eva Pharma Facility in Cairo, Egypt, on June 25, 2020. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

“This agreement is consistent with the previously announced pricing,” Gilead said in a statement.

The Commission said this batch would address “just immediate needs”, and that it was already working to secure new doses from October.

Most European countries have passed the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic but a new wave of infections in recent days has pushed countries to reintroduce restrictions.

While the number of hospitalizations is on the rise in Europe, they remain far below the height of the outbreak in March and April, when many hospitals were overwhelmed.

By Francesco Guarascio and Jan Strupczewski