ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Coronavirus

Japan faces short supply of coronavirus drug remdesivir

Gilead Sciences to distribute enough to cover 140,000 patients worldwide

Some hope Gilead Sciences' Ebola drug remdesivir, left, can prove effective against the novel coronavirus. (Nikkei montage of Reuters/U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases images)

TOKYO -- Japan will not be able to receive a stable supply of promising coronavirus therapy remdesivir from its U.S. developer to treat all patients in need, Nikkei learned Friday.

Remdesivir's developer, Gilead Sciences, plans to distribute enough doses to cover 140,000 patients worldwide, but Japan will receive only a small portion of the supply. 

Japanese regulators are prepared to fast-track approval of the antiviral drug once the treatment is approved overseas. But the national insurance program will not cover the therapy because there will not be a sufficient supply to cover all patients that require the treatment.

Once the drug is approved in Japan, Gilead will provide remdesivir for free and does not plan to apply for national insurance coverage. Since the treatment of all COVID-19 patients is covered by public funds, the patients will incur no cost.

Early U.S. government trial results on Wednesday showed the antiviral drug, initially developed for Ebola patients, helped patients recover more quickly than patients given a placebo. The drug is expected to be approved soon in the U.S. and Europe.

But the lack of supply means it will be a while before remdesivir becomes a major treatment option for Japan's coronavirus patients. Japan will have to step up the development of alternative treatment candidates.

Gilead plans to produce enough remdesivir for at least 500,000 patients by October, and for at least 1 million patients by next year.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more