The drug maker, which has been shown to shorten the recovery time for critically ill patients with COVID-19, says it will charge $ 2,340 for a typical treatment for people covered by government health programs in the US and other developed countries.
Gilead Sciences on Monday announced a price for remdesivir and announced that the price for patients with private insurance will be $ 3,120. The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors.
“We are in uncharted territory with prices for a new medicine, a new medicine, in a pandemic,” said Dan O’Day, Gilead Executive Director, Associated Press.
“We believe that we really had to deviate from normal circumstances,” and he estimated the cost of the drug to provide wide access, and not be based solely on patient value, he said.
However, the price was quickly criticized; the consumer group called it “outrage” because of the amount that taxpayers invested in drug development.
The treatment courses that the company donated to the United States and other countries will end in about a week, and after that the prices will be applied to the medicine, O’Day said.
In the US, federal health officials have allocated limited supplies to the states, but this agreement with Gilead will end after September. On Monday, they said the government had organized more than 500,000 additional courses that Gilead will offer from July to deliver to hospitals through September.
“We should have enough stocks … but we need to make sure it is in the right place at the right time,” O’Day said.
In 127 low- and middle-income countries, Gilead allows generic manufacturers to supply drugs; two countries do this for about $ 600 per treatment course.
The price of Remdesivir was highly anticipated, as it was the first medicine to demonstrate the benefits of a pandemic that killed more than half a million people worldwide in six months.
The drug interferes with the ability of the coronavirus to copy its genetic material. In the USA under the leadership of the government study, Remdesivir reduced recovery time by 31% – an average of 11 days compared to 15 days for those who received only regular care. This did not improve survival according to preliminary results after two weeks of observation; Results in four weeks are expected soon.
Institute of Clinical and Economic Review, a nonprofit group that analyzes drug prices said remdesivir would be cost-effective in the range of $ 4,580 to $ 5,080 if it saved lives. But recent news that a cheap steroid called dexamethasone improves survival means that remdesivir should cost between $ 2,520 and $ 2,800.
“This is a high price for a drug that has not been shown to reduce mortality,” said Dr. Stephen Nissen from the Cleveland Clinic in an email. “Given the serious nature of the pandemic, I would prefer the government to take over production and distribute drugs for free. It was developed using significant taxpayer funding. ”
Peter Maybarduk, a lawyer for the consumer group Public Citizen, called the price “ugliness.”
“Remdesivir should be publicly available,” because the drug received at least $ 70 million in government funding for its development, he said.
“The price negates all belief that pharmaceutical companies will“ do the right thing because it’s a pandemic, ”said Dr. Peter Bach, a health policy expert at the Cancer Cancer Center in New York, in an email. “The price could be good if the company demonstrated that treatment saved lives. This is not true.
Gilead says it will spend $ 1 billion on the development and production of the drug by the end of this year.
The drug is approved for emergency use in the United States, and Gilead has applied for full approval.
You can follow Marilyn Marchion on Twitter: @MMarchioneAP
The Department of Health and Science of the Associated Press receives support from the Department of Natural Sciences at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.