SEOUL, Sept. 24 (Yonhap) -- U.S. pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences Inc. said Thursday its local office has secured enough remdesivir for the treatment of novel coronavirus patients in South Korea.
In June, South Korea's drug safety watchdog approved the use of remdesivir as a treatment drug for the new coronavirus, allowing for the drug's special importation.
The experimental drug, conventionally used for Ebola, started to be supplied to treat COVID-19 patients in critical condition in August. It is currently the only drug to have shown efficacy in treating COVID-19.
The country had administered remdesivir to 416 COVID-19 patients in 58 hospitals as of early this week.
"(The shortage issue) was solved as we do not currently have a problem with supplies," Gilead Sciences Korea CEO Paul Lee told reporters in Seoul.
The country suffered a brief shortage due to supply issues in late August, prompting doctors to prescribe the drug mainly to older patients who need oxygen treatment, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
Lee also said South Korea will be able to use an inhaled formulation of remdesivir -- which is to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 -- yet the exact date of the imports has not been decided.
Gilead Science said it has kicked off a phase one clinical trial to evaluate the safety of inhaled remdesivir in 60 healthy volunteers in the United States.
Gilead Sciences earlier announced it will provide remdesivir at US$390 per vial for direct purchase by the United States and other developed countries.
COVID-19 patients here do not pay for the drug, as the country covers the cost of treating the infectious disease under the related law.
Coronavirus patients are given six vials of remdesivir over five days, which amounts to $2,340 per patient for a typical regimen. If necessary, the drug can be administered for another five days.