Gilead said it was increasing production of the potential Covid-19 drug remdesivir and would be able to make 140,000 10-day courses by the end of May — and a million by the end of 2020.
The California-based biotech group said on Thursday that it had spent $50m on remdesivir research and development in the first quarter, increasing its overall R&D investment to $1.1bn. It said spending on the drug may become a material investment this year.
“Our focus at this time is on both our work with remdesivir and our ongoing commitments to the people who depend on our medicines today,” said Daniel O’Day, Gilead chief executive.
Gilead did not give forecasts for the coming year. The shares fell 1.4 per cent to $84 in after-hours trading in New York.
Gilead shares have soared so far this year on investor hopes that remdesivir could help Covid-19 patients. On Wednesday, there were positive signs from a randomised trial run by the US National Institutes of Health, buoying the stock by almost 6 per cent.
“The amount, timing and accounting for the investments as well as the potential to recoup Gilead’s at-risk investments at some point in the future are dependent on clinical trial and regulatory outcomes,” the company said in its first-quarter earnings release.
Gilead reiterated its promise to make the drug “accessible and affordable to governments and patients around the world”.
In the first quarter, Gilead beat expectations on earnings and revenue. It reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.68, above the average analyst estimate of $1.57, and net income of $1.6bn, down 21 per cent year-on-year.
Sales were buoyed by stockpiling, which Gilead said added about $200m to the quarter. Total revenue was $5.5bn, just higher than expected, and up 5 per cent year-on-year.