Rage over virus drug’s $3G price
The maker of a drug shown to shorten recovery time for severely ill COVID-19 patients says it will charge $2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programs in the United States and in other developed countries.
Gilead Sciences announced the price Monday for remdesivir, and said the price would be $3,120 for patients with private insurance. The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors.
“We’re in uncharted territory with pricing a new medicine, a novel medicine, in a pandemic,” said Gilead’s chief executive, Dan O’Day.
“We believe that we had to really deviate from the normal circumstances” and price the drug to ensure wide access rather than based solely on value to patients, he said.
However, the price was swiftly criticized; a consumer group called it “an outrage” because of at least $70 million that taxpayers invested toward the drug’s development.
The treatment courses that the company has donated to the U.S. and other countries will run out in about a week, and the prices will apply to the drug after that, O’Day said.
In the U.S., federal health officials have allocated the limited supply to states, but that agreement with Gilead will end after September. They said Monday that the government has secured more than 500,000 additional courses that Gilead will produce starting in July to supply to hospitals through September, and stressed that does not mean the government was acquiring that much, just ensuring the availability.
In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead is allowing generic makers to supply the drug; two countries are doing that for around $600 per treatment course.
Remdesivir’s price has been highly anticipated since it became the first medicine to show benefit in the pandemic, which has killed more than a halfmillion people globally in six months.
The drug, given through an IV, interferes with the coronavirus’s ability to copy its genetic material.