Gilead faces pressure to lower the price of a drug to treat rare infection

Over the past few months, thousands of people in India who survived Covid-19 returned to hospitals with a rare and life-threatening infection called mucormycosis, or black fungus. But the medicine used to treat the infection is in short supply and priced out of reach for many people, according to dozens of advocacy groups that are urging the manufacturer to quickly widen access.

At issue is amphotericin B, which is marketed by Gilead Sciences (GILD) to combat cryptococcal meningitis in patients with HIV or visceral leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease. But the sudden emergence of black fungus has opened the company to criticism that it failed to ensure a predictable and affordable supply of the intravenous drug. The infection, which has an overall mortality rate of 50%, may be being triggered by the use of steroids, a life-saving treatment for severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients.

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