May 08, 2020

Senators Warren and Markey, Rep. Pressley Call for Transparency in Remdesivir, Coronavirus Drug Distribution and to Ensure Drug Reaches Communities Most in Need

Alarming reports indicate opaque and uneven distribution of remdesivir, a drug recently approved to treat COVID-19, suggesting federal government is making decisions behind closed doors

 Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) sent a letter today calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to immediately explain how the federal government is distributing remdesivir, a drug recently approved to treat COVID-19. Reports from recent days indicate the federal government has started distributing the drug remdesivir, which received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19. However, the distribution process is opaque, lacks clear guidelines, and does not focus on the communities that have been most impacted by the disease.

“The federal government must ensure that the distribution of COVID-19 therapies such as remdesivir, or future vaccines, is transparent and orderly, and that these treatments reach highly impacted areas that are in need of these critical resources the most,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to Vice President Pence and Secretary Azar.  “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.”

Hospitals across the nation are reporting uneven distribution of remdesivir, with the drug going to hospitals with fewer COVID-19 patients than others. In Massachusetts, some medical centers that have been hardest hit did not get notified that they would receive the drug. For example, Cambridge Health Alliance, a major safety net and the state’s only public hospital, is serving an ongoing COVID-19 hotspot and treating some of the most vulnerable patients but was not included on the federal distribution list.