Promising coronavirus drug remdesivir hasn’t made it to the hospitals that need it the most, Axios reports.
Drugmaker Gilead Sciences has donated hundreds of thousands of doses of the drug, which was recently greenlighted by the FDA for hospitals to use as an emergency treatment for patients with COVID-19.
But confusion between the agencies in charge of distribution has caused vials of the drug to end up in places where it isn’t needed the most.
On Tuesday, more than 32,000 remdesivir doses were shipped and delivered on Tuesday to Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia.
A Trump administration official told Axios the drug went to "less impacted counties.”
Tuesday’s delivery was only 5% of the total stockpile of doses set to be distributed to hospitals.
“Some went to the wrong places, some went to the right places,” a senior official told Axios. “We don't know who gave the order. And no one is claiming responsibility.”
According to a source, Vice President Mike Pence put Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in charge of getting the drug where it needs to go during Wednesday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting.
HHS was supposed to work with FEMA on the distribution plan. Neither agency has taken responsibility for the mix-up.
According to a senior administration official, HHS was supposed to identify which places needed the drug the most and FEMA was supposed to put the plan in action.
"An initial allocation of the drug remdesivir was made to seven states on Tuesday, and — after consultation with health experts — HHS will be managing distribution of the next tranche of the treatment to 16 states tonight and tomorrow, based on urgent need," Devin O'Malley, a spokesman for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told Axios.
An official told Axios the shipments were based off old data, but was the best information available at the time.
Doctors say there is no way for them to request the drug and they don’t know what to tell patients asking for the treatment.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, told CNN there is no way of knowing if your hospital will receive the drug or not.
"But there's no process, there's no way to go and look something up when you want to advocate for your own hospital or advocate for your own community,” he said.
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