Health

Single course of Covid-19 treatment to cost $2,340 per patient - Gilead

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A person enters a building at Gilead Sciences Inc. headquarters in Foster City California U.S. on March 19

Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:GILD) has announced it will charge thousands of dollars for its investigational drug remdesivir, temporarily approved in certain countries as coronavirus treatment.

Patients suffering from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus are usually given six vials of remdesivir over five days.

Patient advocates have argued that the cost should be lower since remdesivir was developed with financial support from the US government. We are aware of the significant responsibility that comes with pricing remdesivir.

The medicine could yield substantial profits for Gilead if large quantities are needed for many months, as seems likely.

Gilead also said part of its decision was to remove the need for country-by-country price negotiations.

The price changes for private insurers, however. It added that the drug could save hospitals $US12,000 per patient because of earlier discharges.

Although the FDA hasn't approved remdesivir as a treatment, they have granted the drug emergency use authorization.

This development has raised serious questions about the global distribution of COVID treatments.

HHS has been distributing the drug since May and was due to run out after this week.

It wasn't immediately clear how many US patients would qualify for the lower price beyond those treated at facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The drugmaker, Gilead Sciences, does offer a discounted rate to programs like Medicare. It argued remdesivir could save $12,000 per patient by getting people out of the hospital faster. "We discounted the price to a level that is affordable for developed countries with the lowest purchasing power", he said. "The price might have been fine if the company had demonstrated that the treatment saved lives".

Gilead also said Monday it reached an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services to manage allocation of remdesivir in the US through September.

The agency said it secured more than 500,000 remdesivir courses for US hospitals through September.

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

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

Analysts expected a USA cost/course in the neighborhood of $5,000 after drug cost watchdog ICER published a cost/benefit analysis that determined a price of $4,500 to be cost-effective.

The company is developing an inhaled version that could be used outside a hospital setting.

HHS has secured more than half a million treatment courses of the drug for American hospitals through September, from its manufacturer Gilead Sciences, including 100% of the company's production for July and 90% for August and September.

Remdesivir is one of the only available COVID-19 drugs right now and is shown to help the people recover earlier from the viral disease.

Remdesivir's price has been a topic of intense debate.

"I do not think remdesivir data are worth this price or the hype it has gotten", Inmaculada Hernandez, an assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics at the University of Pittsburgh, said in an email. That puts the total per patient treatment costs $US2,340 ($3,415) and $US3,120 ($4,553), respectively. Commercially insured patients will pay a bit more, $520 per vial or $3,120 per course.

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