COVID-19 drug remdesivir pricetag of US$2,340 draws criticism

Grant Boone
June 29, 2020

Remdesivir is at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 after the anti-viral treatment helped shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial.

The company seeks to to produce more than 2 million treatment courses of its experimental vaccine candidate remdesivir by the end of the year and many millions more in 2021, it said last week.

Gilead has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with the agency and states set to manage allocation to hospitals until the end of September.

The regimen requires six vials of remdesivir over a five-day period; each vial is $390 in the United States and for the governments of developed countries, bringing the total to $2,340 for each person.

Peter Maybarduk, a lawyer at the consumer group Public Citizen, called the price "an outrage".

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, O'Day said the USA was the only developed country to get two prices.

This represents 100 per cent of Gilead's projected production for July of 94,200 treatment courses, 90 per cent of production in August and September, in addition to an allocation for clinical trials, HHS said.

COVID-19: Hetero releases generic Remdesivir ‘Covifor’, check cost per injection
Remdesivir is now being used to treat patients through emergency use authorizations and other access programs around the world. Gilead's investigational drug, remdesivir , is now administered in hospitals through daily infusions.

In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead is allowing generic makers to supply the drug.

O'Day added that remdesivir's pricing has been a "topic that has attracted more speculation than any other" since US regulators approved its emergency use in some COVID-19 patients in May. It experienced not enhanced survival in accordance to preliminary final results right after two months of followup final results right after 4 months are anticipated quickly. Results after four weeks are expected soon.

The price tag is below the $5,080 per course recommendation by US drug pricing research group, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), last week. But new information that a affordable steroid known as dexamethasone increases survival suggests remdesivir really should be priced among $two, 520 and $two, 800, the team explained.

A recent ICER report found that the drug likely costs about $9.32 - rounded up to $10 - to manufacture one 10-day course of treatment.

In the interview, O'Day said $1 per day was "not a realistic price point".

"Remdesivir should be in the public domain" because the drug received at least $70 million in public funding toward its development, he said.

"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. "The price might have been fine if the company had demonstrated that the treatment saved lives". It has been approved for emergency use in some patients in the United States.

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