China has been rocked by a series of production problems in the pharmaceutical sector. Photo: iStock
The two companies merging would form a record-breaking US$236 billion company. Photo: iStock

British pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca has approached US rival Gilead Sciences over a possible record merger, Bloomberg reported, as the pair spearhead treatments for Covid-19.

AstraZeneca informally contacted Gilead last month, Sunday’s report said, adding that a combined group would be worth a record-breaking US$236 billion when taking into account the companies’ closing valuations Friday.

That was trimmed Monday, with AstraZeneca’s share price down 2.14% at the start of London trading.   

Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir has been shown to help severely ill coronavirus patients, while AstraZeneca is trialing a Covid-19 vaccine.