Gilead Sciences, the company that makes the antiviral drug remdesivir, announced on Monday that it is about to start trials of an inhaled version of the medication.
Remdesivir — which is currently administered intravenously through infusions — is the only drug that has an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus infections.
"After receiving the green light from the FDA to move forward, Gilead is about to start trials of an inhaled version of remdesivir. We will screen healthy volunteers for Phase 1 trials this week and hope to begin studies in patients with COVID-19 in August," Daniel O'Day, Gilead Sciences chairman and CEO, said in an open letter on Monday.
"If the trials are successful, this could represent important progress. Remdesivir, our investigational antiviral medicine, is currently given to patients intravenously through daily infusions in the hospital," O'Day added. "An inhaled formulation would be given through a nebulizer, which could potentially allow for easier administration outside the hospital, at earlier stages of disease. That could have significant implications in helping to stem the tide of the pandemic."
The letter went on to explain how there are also plans to study remdesivir in treating Covid-19 earlier in the progression of the disease, in combination with other therapies and in additional patient groups. Last week, Gilead announced it would begin advanced trials of the drug in children.
Remdesivir was originally studied as a potential treatment for Ebola, but lab experiments revealed that it could work against coronavirus.
Monday's letter from Gilead noted that the company expects to have more than 2 million remdesivir treatment courses manufactured by the end of the year, and many millions more by 2021.