Gilead's $2340 price for coronavirus drug draws criticism

Gilead slaps multi-thousand-dollar price tag on coronavirus treatment remdesivir

Gilead Sciences Inc has priced its COVID-19 drug candidate remdesivir at $2,340 for a five-day treatment in the United States and some other developed countries, potentially reflecting looming competition from a cheap steroid.

The company reportedly plans charge the US government $390 a dose, which will cost patients on Medicare at least $2,300 for the shortest coronavirus treatment cycle.

Patient advocates like Public Citizen argue that the cost should be lower since remdesivir was developed with financial support from the United States government.

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

"In normal circumstances, we would price a medicine according to the value it provides".

Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences to treat Ebola, the deadly hemorrhagic fever that emerged in West Africa in 2014.

Industry watchers and pharma critics have spent the past two months pitching their calculations on how Gilead Sciences would-and should-price remdesivir after the repurposed antiviral drug became the first to show benefits for COVID-19 patients in a large controlled study.

Gilead's CEO, Daniel O'Day, wrote in an open letter that the company approached its pricing decision with the aim of helping as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible.

This is below the US$5,080 per course recommendation by USA drug pricing research group, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, last week.

"We believe this is generally in line with expectations, though below the original ICER estimate of $4,500 and some recent more bullish estimates; Gilead also appears to have done a more careful job articulating the rationale for pricing than in the past with HCV".

The prices are roughly in line with those an influential US drug cost watchdog pegged on the drug in its latest cost-effectiveness analysis, but came below the sticker Wall Street was expecting. While the drug modestly reduced hospital stays, it has not been shown to reduce deaths in COVID-19 patients.

Hospital patients receiving the shortest course of remdesivir would be charged $520 per dose, or $3,120 for the shortest treatment course.

What's Next: Gilead said it has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in which HHS and states will manage allocation to hospitals until the end of September.

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

By the end of 2020, Gilead said it expected to have invested more than $1bn on the development and manufacture of remdesivir, "and our commitment to will continue through 2021 and beyond", O'Day said.

Countries in the developing world will get the drug at greatly reduced prices through generic manufacturers to which Gilead has licensed production.

Cipla's version is priced at less than 5,000 Indian rupees (US$66.24), while Hetero Lab's version is priced at 5,400 rupees.