After more than a week of uncertainty, the Trump administration has outlined more detailed information about how the federal government plans to allocate Gilead’s donation of its promising coronavirus treatment remdesivir.
An HHS spokesperson said on Friday that the federal government is sending shipments of the drug to state health departments based on the state-by-state percentage of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
The federal government is using data on COVID-19 patients in and outside of intensive care units that hospitals submit using the data tracking technology TeleTracking, data submitted by state health departments, and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s infection tracking system National Healthcare Safety Network to inform its calculations for each shipment.
HHS said all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all received at least one shipment of remdesivir as of Tuesday. State health departments are in charge of sending the drug to hospitals. AmerisourceBergen is distributing remdesivir to states.
Gilead donated enough remdesivir to treat 78,000 U.S. patients. An initial distribution of the drug was sent directly to roughly two dozen hospitals nationwide the week of May 4. In Massachusetts, some of the hospitals with the highest coronavirus disease burden were left empty-handed, so hospitals cooperated to ensure an equitable distribution.
The White House subsequently said Ambassador Debbie Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, would oversee the distribution effort. On May 9, HHS announced state health departments would be in charge of sending the drug to hospitals.
States so far have taken varied approaches to distributing their shipments of the drug. Illinois sent out doses based on data about hospitals’ COVID-19 hospitalization and intensive care unit numbers. Virginia’s health department is using a random selection model based on confirmed COVID-19 cases, a hospital’s ability to handle the drug, and availability.
Doctors have voiced frustration that they don’t have enough information from studies done on remdesivir to effectively target the drug.