Gilead sets coronavirus drug candidate remdesivir at $2,340 per patient

DENIS CHARLET  AFP via Getty Images

For governments of developed countries, including the USA, the price will be lower, at $390 per vial or $2,340 per course.

In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, a vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States.

Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicine's program at the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen, called remdesivir's pricing "offensive", arguing in a press release that public support for the drug's development totaled at least $70.5 million.

"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 in an email.

Gilead said that remdesivir, while pricey, could save people money by reducing the time they spend in the hospital.

In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead is allowing generic makers to supply the drug; two countries are doing that for around US$600 ($876) per treatment course.

The prices are roughly in line with those an influential USA drug cost watchdog pegged on the drug in its latest cost-effectiveness analysis, but came below the sticker Wall Street was expecting.

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

According to the CDC, roughly 300,000 individuals in the US have been hospitalized since March 1 with COVID-19 (98.4 per 100,000 population), and over 125,000 have died.

"The pricing announcement is slightly below our expectation on the US commercial price, but may indicate higher price for national stockpiling".

The company's chief executive officer said the price of the drug is placed below the value it provides. At the level we have priced remdesivir and with government programs in place, along with additional Gilead assistance as needed, we believe all patients will have access. The price sets a benchmark for all other treatments and vaccines in development for Covid-19, which shows profit is possible though it may not be as large as some had hoped.

"While we don't pretend to be pricing experts, this range seems reasonable considering that the value of early discharge is $12,000 per the USA government (which could be increased based on the average four-day shortening of stay) and that Gilead is spending $1 billion on manufacturing by year-end".

"Additionally, we view pricing to be in-line with ICER's prior assessment based on a mortality benefit".

Pricing per patient is "well in-line if not below the value pricing they could have charged based on $12,000 of hospital savings for early discharge". At that price, remdesivir could rake in $1.9 billion in sales this year and peak at $7.6 billion in 2022, SVB Leerink recently estimated.

On the other hand, Gilead investors may find the price less appealing.

Rates buy, price target $97.



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