May 10, 2020 - Health

Gottlieb on government's remdesivir rollout: "We need a better system"

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday that the Trump administration needs a "better system" for distributing coronavirus therapeutics, following the chaotic rollout of the drug remdesivir.

Why it matters: As Axios' Jonathan Swan first reported, a breakdown in communication and coordination by the administration resulted in a failure last week to distribute remdesivir to some of the high-priority hospitals where it's most needed.

  • Preliminary data indicates that the drug can help patients recover from the coronavirus more quickly than patients who receive no treatment, but it does not significantly reduce the risk of death from the virus.

The backdrop: Gilead Sciences, which produces remdesivir, donated hundreds of thousands of doses to the federal government after the FDA authorized it as an emergency treatment for coronavirus patients.

  • Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day said last week that the federal government would determine which U.S. cities will receive the drug based on "urgent" need and deliver the medicine.
  • More than 32,000 doses were shipped and delivered last week to Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia.
  • Some doses went to less-impacted counties around the U.S., and many other doses remain unshipped.

What he's saying: "If the government is going to take control of the supply of these kinds of therapeutics — and they don't necessarily have to do that, they chose to do that — they need to have a good system in place," Gottlieb said.

  • "I think they should have been trying to push out as many doses as fast as possible because more supply is coming into the market. There's no reason to hoard it or hold on to it."
  • "So hopefully when they start to contemplate the next therapeutic, and there will be more therapeutics in the fall or a vaccine, on how they allocate that, they're going to have a better system in place based on clinical need."

Go deeper: Why Gilead's coronavirus drug is not a "silver bullet"

Go deeper