Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has signed a multi-year deal with Gilead Sciences Inc., to boost the production of its investigational antiviral remdesivir, a drug against COVID-19.

So far, remdesivir is the only approved drug in the U.S. for COVID 19 treatment after research observed clinical improvement in a significant part of the patients involved in a study. The Pfizer and Gilead partnership will ramp up the manufacturing process of the COVID antiviral.

"From the beginning, it was clear that no one company or innovation would be able to bring an end to the COVID-19 crisis," said Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO. He added: "Pfizer's agreement with Gilead is an excellent example of members of the innovation ecosystem working together to deliver medical solutions."

In a press release, Pfizer said that they would be using their facility at McPherson, Kansas, to manufacture and supply the drug.

RELATED: Gilead's Remdesivir Prevents Lung Damage in Monkeys, Adding to Its Long List of Successful Findings 

A Part of Pfizer's Five-Point Plan

In March, Pfizer outlined its five-point plan to address the global coronavirus pandemic. It called on the biopharmaceutical industry, government agencies, and academic institutions to commit to working together to battle the pandemic.

(Photo : (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 26: A Pfizer sign hangs on the outside of their headquarters in New York City.

The pharmaceutical giant commits to these "five promises" that will help the community accelerate the development of therapies and vaccines to help protect patients and prepare a better industry response. It included sharing tools and insights, where the company commits to making tools on an open-source platform accessible by the scientific community and sharing any relevant findings with other companies to speed up research.

Another point in the Pfizer response plan is marshaling their people. Pfizer has committed its own "SWAT team" composed of its virologists, chemists, epidemiologists, and other key experts focused only on working against the coronavirus.

The partnership with Gilead exemplifies the fourth of their five-point plan: offering manufacturing capabilities. With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granting emergency use authorization for remdesivir as a COVID 19 treatment, Pfizer has allotted its resources to support the drug's increased production.

"In this troubling time, Pfizer is committed to doing all we can to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies, including Pfizer, are working to develop antiviral therapies to help infected patients fight this emerging virus as well as new vaccines to prevent infection and halt the further spread of this disease," Bourla said in an accompanying statement. The Pfizer CEO added that they are "committed to working as one team across the industry to harness our scientific expertise, technical skills, and manufacturing capabilities to combat this evolving crisis."


What would become known as a broad-spectrum antiviral medication was first developed by scientists at Gilead Sciences in 2009. It was originally formulated as a potential cure against hepatitis C but did not work as planned.

RELATED: Next on Gilead's Agenda: Inhaled Remdesivir and Other User-Friendly Versions of the Drug

The drug was later repurposed and again tested as a potential treatment for the Ebola virus disease, which emerged in Congo and other parts of West Africa. However, its effectiveness as an Ebola treatment was limited but proved to be safe for use on humans.

In partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gilead Sciences were able to identify remdesivir's antiviral properties in vitro against coronaviruses, as well as pneumoviruses, filoviruses, and paramyxoviruses.