Gilead Plans to Charge Over $3,000 for COVID-19 Antiviral Remdesivir

Gilead Sciences Inc. said that it will charge us hospitals roughly $3,120 for most patients who need remdesivir, picking a middle ground in a high-profile decision on the cost of one of the first drugs for Covid-19.

The price for USA private insurance companies will be US$520 per vial, the drugmaker said, which equates to US$3,120 per patient for a treatment course using 6 vials of remdesivir.

"Because of the way the US system is set up and the discounts that government healthcare programs expect, the price for USA private insurance companies, will be $520 per vial", O'Day explained in his letter.

A typical treatment course requires six vials over five days, equaling $2,340 per patient: a price developed "with the aim of helping as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible and in the most responsible way", and one that all can afford, according to the company. It received an emergency use authorization from US regulators in May, after a big trial found it sped recovery by about four days in hospitalized patients. Late last month, Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines Program, made the argument that Gilead relied on help and funding from the US government to develop remdesivir.

Gilead has entered into agreements with generic manufacturers in developing countries to deliver treatment at a substantially lower cost.

In a study of 53 patients who received a 10-day course of remdesivir, 68% showed a clinical improvement.

Shares of Gilead gained as much as 2.7% in trading Monday in NY.

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Health Secretary Alex Azar said the deal with Gilead Sciences will ensure a steady supply of remdesivir for American hospitals through September. The department has secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug, which is 93% of Gilead's projected output through September. While it's higher than some patient groups had pushed for, it was close to a level that some drug-pricing watchdogs have said would be acceptable based on remdesivir's expected benefit. Dexamethasone costs less than $1 per day, PAD said.

Peter Maybarduk, an attorney at the consumer group Public Citizen, called the price 'an outrage'.

"We're in uncharted territory with pricing a new medicine, a novel medicine, in a pandemic", Gilead's chief executive, Dan O'Day, told The Associated Press.

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

As for Americans with private insurance, they'll be charged $3,120, "because of the way the USA system is set up and the discounts that government healthcare programs expect", Gilead said. The drug is administered intravenously to treat severe cases of the respiratory illness. "The price might have been fine if the company had demonstrated that the treatment saved lives".

At the $2,340 government purchase price, Gilead could collect revenue of about $2.3 billion from selling around 1.5 million remdeisivr treatment course in 2020, RBC Capital analyst Brian Abrahams wrote in a Monday note to clients.

Gilead agreed to donate its supply of remdesivir through the end of June, but it announced it will begin charging for the antiviral drug in July. By the end of the year, it expects to produce around 2 million treatment courses.

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