Pharmaceutical giant Gilead has announced pricing for its coronavirus drug remdesivir, and it’s just short of an arm and a leg.
Gilead said the drug will cost $520 per vial, or $3,120 for a six-vial treatment, for private insurance companies. And that’s for the short treatment. The long treatment will cost $5,720.
The price will be different for government health care programs in developed countries, such as Medicare. The cost: $390 per vial, or $2,340 per patient on a short, six-vial treatment.
“In normal circumstances, we would price a medicine according to the value it provides. The first results from the NIAID [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] study in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 showed that remdesivir shortened time to recovery by an average of four days,” Gilead Sciences CEO and Chairman Daniel O’Day said in an open letter obtained by Fox News.
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“Taking the example of the United States, earlier hospital discharge would result in hospital savings of approximately $12,000 per patient. Even just considering these immediate savings to the healthcare system alone, we can see the potential value that remdesivir provides. This is before we factor in the direct benefit to those patients who may have a shorter stay in the hospital.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved remdesivir for treating COVID-19, but did grant emergency use authorization in May. Just days ago, remdisivir won conditional approval in Europe.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, O’Day said America is the only developed country in which two different prices would be used.
“Because of the way the U.S. system is set up and the discounts that government healthcare programs expect, the price for U.S. private insurance companies, will be $520 per vial,” O’Day said in his letter. “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.”
Said The Journal:
Covid-19 patients get two doses of remdesivir by infusion on the first day, and one dose daily afterward. The shortest treatment course is five days, while a longer treatment course takes 10 days.
Currently, 90% to 95% of patients receive five-day treatment courses, Mr. O’Day said.
Remdesivir is the first antiviral drug shown to be effective at treating Covid-19 in a major clinical trial, reducing patients’ recovery times by four days compared with the placebo group in a large study funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.