The US biotechnology group said that government health care programs in developed countries would be charged a lump sum of $ 390 per vial for the drug. A five-day treatment uses six vials.
Remdesivir, a drug once considered a potential treatment for the Ebola virus, is the only brand-name drug to have received emergency use authorization from the United States regulatory authorities for the treatment of Covid-19.
Clinical trials of the drug, administered intravenously, have shown that it shortens the length of hospital stays for patients with coronavirus by a statistically significant margin, although it did not reduce death rates. .
Peter Maybarduk, director of access to medicine for the advocacy group Public Citizen, criticized Gilead’s award, saying it was “a display of pride and contempt for the public.”
“Gilead has valued a drug that should be in the public domain at several thousand dollars [and] has not yet shown why the price should be higher, “he said.
Government-supported health systems, including the UK’s NHS, are negotiating aggressively with drug manufacturers over the price, which means that some may end up paying less than the $ 2,340 offered by Gilead per course. .
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This month, a cheaper steroid called dexamethasone emerged as an alternative treatment for coronaviruses after British researchers showed that it significantly reduced mortality in patients requiring ventilation. The drug costs around £ 30 for 50 tablets, according to the British National Formulary.
For remdesivir, private insurers in the United States would be charged $ 520 per vial – a higher rate than governments – bringing the cost for a typical patient with commercial insurance to $ 3,120. The amount a patient would pay out of his pocket would depend on his insurance policy.
Public dissatisfaction with the high price of drugs in the United States has placed pharmaceutical companies under close scrutiny.
Gilead said he rated the drug “well below” what it considered to be the value of the benefits it offers.
The New York-listed company said the shortened recovery time would save hospitals about $ 12,000 per patient. Gilead said he set the price to allow “broad and fair access at a time of urgent global need”.
He said he had chosen to charge governments a flat fee to “remove the need for country-by-country price negotiations.”
A study by the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) found that remdesivir shortened the recovery time of virus patients by an average of four days.
Gilead added that he had reached an agreement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services to manage the allocation of treatment until the end of September, when supplies are limited.
Gilead himself has been closely watched over the price of drugs, including his HIV treatment Truvada, which has a list price of over $ 20,000 a year.
Andrew Hill, an academic at the University of Liverpool, said that countries should prioritize dexamethasone before investing in remdesivir.
“Remdesivir has no proven survival benefit and the results are not consistent across studies,” he said. “We don’t know why 5 days of treatment should improve clinical responses, but not 10 days of treatment. ”
Dr. Hill and others argued in a study published in April that remdesivir could be mass produced for $ 9 per course. Gilead disagreed with this cost.
Hopes were high for another potential Covid-19 treatment, the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine, but a series of clinical trials has shown that it has no benefit for hospital patients.