HHS to allow states to distribute Gilead's remdesivir to combat the coronavirus

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Saturday it will permit state health departments to send out Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir drug to fight the coronavirus.

HHS said in a statement that the distribution of the drug will be made possible because of a donation from Gilead. Remdesivir, which received an emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will be given to coronavirus patients in some of the hardest-hit areas of the country, including New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois.

The state departments of health will distribute the doses to the appropriate hospitals.

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Candidates for the drug must be on ventilators or require supplemental oxygen.

Gilead has already committed to supplying 607,000 vials of remdesivir over the next six weeks in the U.S.

The company’s drug has shown promise in helping patients infected with the coronavirus, and data shows it helped reduce the lengths of hospital stays.

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said in late April that his company would donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir, but HHS clarified Saturday that it was a global figure and that 607,000 doses would be distributed through the U.S. agency.

HHS’s announcement comes as the agency was pressed by lawmakers over the distribution of remdesivir after internal errors resulted in thousands of doses going to "less impacted counties" while others were unable to obtain any.

“Congress and the public need to know whether HHS is making its distribution decisions in backroom deals or is relying on data and evidence to ensure that potentially life-saving drugs reach the patients who need them,” Massachusetts Democratic Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Energy: US Park Police say 'tear gas' statements were 'mistake' | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues in battle to save seats Senate Dems introduce bill to keep pilots and bus and train operators safe MORE and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody MORE and Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyWarren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Minority caucuses call for quick action on police reform Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd MORE wrote to Vice President Pence, who is overseeing the administration's coronavirus response, and HHS Secretary Alex Azar.