Rage over virus drug’s $3G price

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY MARILYNN MARCHIONE

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.

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