Gilead prices coronavirus drug at $2,340 for rich countries

Signage is displayed outside Gilead Sciences Inc. headquarters in Foster City California

Signage is displayed outside Gilead Sciences Inc. headquarters in Foster City California

Forbes reports that the company said in its Monday statement, that the government of developed countries, including programs like Medicare in the USA, will pay $2,340 for a typical five-day treatment course, or $390 per vial for six vials.

The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors, the California-based pharmaceutical company said.

"President Trump has struck an wonderful deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19", HHS Secretary Alex Azar said, adding: "To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it".

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.

Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines Program, called the price "an offensive display of hubris and disregard for the public".

One vial of the drug Remdesivir lies during a press conference about the start of a study with the Ebola drug Remdesivir in particularly severely ill patients at the University Hospital Eppendorf in Hamburg, northern Germany on April 8, 2020, amidst the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

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

After this period, once supplies are less constrained, HHS will stop managing the allocation, the company said.

In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead is allowing generic makers to supply the drug.

As for dexamethasone, United Kingdom researchers recently announced that the treatment led to a 35% reduction in death rate among seriously ill, mechanically ventilated patients and 20% for those on oxygen support without invasive ventilation in a large-scale clinical trial dubbed Recovery.

It had not improved survival according to preliminary results after two weeks of followup.

In an update last week, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) found that remdesivir would be cost-effective at around $4,580 to $5,080 per patient.

But recent news that a cheap steroid called dexamethasone - a common $50 steroid - improves survival means remdesivir should be priced between $2,520 and $2,800, the group said. The price sets a benchmark for all other treatments and vaccines in development for Covid-19, which shows profit is possible though it may not be as large as some had hoped.

'This is a high price for a drug that has not been shown to reduce mortality, ' Dr Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic said. "Given the serious nature of the pandemic, I would prefer that the government take over production and distribute the drug for free".

"Remdesivir should be in the public domain" because the drug received at least US$70 million ($102 million) in public funding toward its development, he said.

O'Day said pricing of the drug was a balancing act.

In 2019, the company defended what many called "price-gouging" for its HIV drug Truvada to a House committee, claiming the high cost pays for the research behind its development, the Washington Post reported previous year. It has been approved for emergency use in some patients in the United States.

Gilead Sciences Inc.'s move to charge less than expected for its coronavirus-fighting drug drew a debate on Wall Street, as analysts sparred over the company's ability to recoup its more than $1-billion investment in developing and making the medicine.

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