Pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences announced on Monday that their coronavirus drug remdesivir will cost thousands of dollars, CNN reports.
The company said that the cost to the government, through Medicaid for example, would be $390 per vial or $2,340 for a five-day course, which includes six doses.
But the price to insurance companies will be $520 per vial, adding up to $3,120 per patient for a five-day treatment.
"As with all our actions on remdesivir, we approached this with the aim of helping as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible and in the most responsible way,” Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said in a letter. “This has been our compass point throughout, from collaborating to find rapid answers on safety and efficacy, to scaling up manufacturing and donating our supply of remdesivir through the end of June. In each case, we recognized the need to do things differently to reflect the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic. Now, as we transition beyond the donation period and set a price for remdesivir, the same principle applies.”
Company had donated previous doses:
The drug, which received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the coronavirus, had been donated for free to the government, which distributed the drugs among states.
But the government’s last scheduled donated shipment is set to go out on Monday.
"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," O'Day said. "Gilead has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whereby HHS and states will continue to manage allocation to hospitals until the end of September. After this period, once supplies are less constrained, HHS will no longer manage allocation."
Doctors say price too high:
“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 New York, told the Associated Press. “The price might have been fine if the company had demonstrated that the treatment saved lives. It didn’t.”
But Dr. David Boulware, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told the outlet that it may be worth it.
“From the health system perspective, if remdesivir can shorten duration of hospitalization by four days, then the medicine provides a reasonable value,” he said.