Exorbitant price of Gilead's Covid-19 drug irks consumer groups

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The anti-viral drug remdesivir is expected to be priced at 2,340 dollars to treat one patient infected with the novel coronavirus.

Right now, Gilead's planning to test an inhaled formulation of the drug for potential use in patients with earlier stages of the disease. A treatment course is 6 vials.

Peter Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told STAT that remdesivir could lengthen some hospital stays, because patients may not be discharged until they get a full course.

"We believe that we had to really deviate from the normal circumstances" and price the drug to ensure wide access rather than based exclusively on value to patients, he said. It is the first antiviral drug to demonstrate patient improvement. That is a 33% increase over the $390 per vial Gilead said it will charge governments of developed countries and US patients in government healthcare programs.

"As with many other aspects of this pandemic, we are in uncharted territory in pricing remdesivir".

'The price puts to rest any notion that drug companies will "do the right thing" because it is a pandemic, ' Dr Peter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY said. Gilead says it will have spent US$1 billion ($1.45 billion) on developing and making the drug by the end of this year.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug dispensed intravenously and previously tested as a treatment for Ebola, is among the experimental treatments for COVID-19 and is being studied in multiple clinical trials around the world. "Public funding was indispensable, and government scientists led the early drug discovery team".


O'Day said there will be enough supply of remdesivir.

In the developing world, where health care resources, infrastructure and economics are so different, the company also has entered into agreements with generic manufacturers to deliver the treatments at a substantially lower cost.

As with almost all drug prices, it's not a simple formula. "The bottom line is that this adds to the financial burden on employers and their employees and families, many of whom are already struggling from the impact of the COVID pandemic", the group said.

HHS is managing the allocation of remdesivir to hospitals until the end of September through an agreement with Gilead. The agency said Monday it has more than 500,000 treatment courses. That represents all of Gilead's projected production for July and 90% of its production in August and September, in addition to an allocation for clinical trials, HHS said.

HHS has been distributing the drug since May and was due to run out after this week.

"President Trump has struck an fantastic deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19", HHS Secretary Alex Azar said, adding: "To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it". "To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it". The company balanced the decision with its "longer-term responsibilities: to continue with our ongoing work on remdesivir, to maintain our long-term research in antivirals and to invest in scientific innovation that might help generations to come", he said.

GILD Price Action: Gilead shares were up 1.42% at $75.63 at the time of publication Monday.

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