52 days ago, President Trump vowed that widespread drive-thru coronavirus screening was finally coming. Now, the White House is declaring victory in the race for more testing.
To help figure out where the drug was going, Conan Macdougall, a professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, surveyed hospitals across the country about their access to remdesivir. He told POLITICO that he was able to identify about half of the 25 hospitals set to receive stocks of the drug.
All but two of the facilities he uncovered are located on the East Coast, even though many areas in the interior U.S. and West Coast have also been hit hard by the virus. But there’s not a clear divide, such as between red states and blue states, that explains which facilities have been given access to the drug.
“From what we can see of the 10 [hospitals] we do have data on and the many that we do not, there isn’t a clear politicization as to distribution by geography,” Macdougall said.
Further complicating the situation, at least one governor has said his state has received the drug directly from Gilead. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that the company gave 1,600 doses of remdesivir, which will go to unspecified hospitals in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, just outside of Washington, D.C. A spokesperson for Hogan did not respond to questions about which hospitals would get the drug.
Meanwhile, some hospitals that received remdesivir from the government aren’t sure how best to distribute it. The FDA gave Gilead an emergency use authorization for the drug based on data from a clinical trial conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but neither agency has released detailed results from the study.
Francisco Marty, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said he’s been working with North Shore Medical Center in Massachusetts — which received a shipment of 1,000 doses of remdesivir on Wednesday — to strategize how to give out the drug based on his experience with remdesivir during a clinical trial.
Other hospitals that have received remdesivir from the FDA through its “expanded access program,” which gives patients access to the drug outside of clinical trials, aren’t sure whether they’ll be able to get more.
Aadia Rana, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s hospital, said her facility isn’t sure if it will able to restock through the expanded access program after its current inventory runs out. “This of course puts us in a Catch-22 with regards to distributing our available limited supply,” she said.