Gilead Sciences Inc. pharmaceutical company in Oceanside, California. April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Today, Gilead Sciences Chairman and CEO Daniel O’Day stated in an open letter that a 5-day treatment course of remdesivir would equate to $2,340 per patient. A study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious in April found that the drug “accelerated the recovery of hospitalized patients but had only a marginal benefit in the rate of death.” Gilead Sciences (GILD) stock rose 1.2% on the day of the announcement and is up 15% YTD. The Trump administration secured a contract for 500,000 treatment courses.

In his open letter, O’Day highlighted the logistics of drug distribution as a contributing factor to its global pricing. He stated, “To ensure broad and equitable access at a time of urgent global need, we have set a price for governments of developed countries of $390 per vial.”  The prices mean that 5-day treatment would cost $2,340 for those insured through government programs and $3,120 for those with private health insurance, with co-pay dependent on the specific plan.

Some medical professionals expressed concern regarding the pricing of remdesivir. Eric Fiegl-Ding, an Epidemiologist & Health Economist, stated that NIH is funded by taxpayers, linking to a tweet by Topher Spiro, Vice President of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress, that referred to remdesivir’s price as “inexcusable.” Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, stated that the drug should be placed “in the public domain” due to taxpayer contributions to its development. Other influencers stated their frustration with for-profit healthcare and alleged that the pricetag for remdesivir was not “affordable.” 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Gilead Says Remdesivir to Cost $2,340 for Five-Day Treatment – Bloomberg – 6/29/2020 Gilead Sciences Inc. said it will charge the U.S. government and other developed countries $390 per vial for its coronavirus-fighting drug remdesivir, or about $2,340 for a typical five-day course of treatment.

Gilead announces long-awaited price for Covid-19 drug remdesivir – STAT – 6/29/2020 Gilead expects that insurers and government programs, not patients, will shoulder most of the cost of the drug in the U.S. The company said government programs, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which supports uninsured patients, should support the drug’s affordability and that Gilead will provide additional assistance.

Gilead sets pricing for coronavirus drug remdesivir, could cost over $3G – Fox News – 6/29/2020 The developing world will see treatment “at a substantially lower cost,” with O’Day citing “healthcare resources, infrastructure and economics” as the reasons. The company previously announced it had entered into agreements with generic drug makers to produce the drugs for developing countries.

Gilead’s $2,340 price for coronavirus drug draws criticism – Associated Press – 6/29/2020 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 other developed countries.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

  • Eugene Gu, MD on Twitter 6/29/20: Gilead Sciences charging $2,340 for a 5-day course of Remdesivir that maybe reduces time to recovery, doesn’t improve survival, and is likely inferior to the much cheaper dexamethasone for ventilated patients reveals Big Pharma’s greed and opportunism during this pandemic.
  • James Todaro, MD on Twitter 6/29/20: A tale of two drugs…Remdesivir & HCQ both show promise for COVID-19HCQ is discredited w/ fraudulent data, FDA warnings & overdoses. Remdesivir is praised w/ tightly guarded data by the NIH and a task force of Gilead investors/employeesHCQ: Under $10Remdesivir: Over $3000
  • Secretary Alex Azar on Twitter 6/29/20: Breaking news: President Trump has secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug remdesivir for American hospitals through September.
  • Vidya on Twitter 6/29/20: Publicly available records show that the American taxpayer spent at least $70mn on Remdesivir R&D. Andrew Hill’s study estimates it can be made for around a $1/day. It’s insane that Gilead is charging this much during a pandemic

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