COVID-19: Antiviral drug Remdesivir may cost over $5,000 per treatment

*Gilead did not make this drug alone, public funding indispensable ─Director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines

*Consumers to pay different prices depending on health benefits coverage ─Report

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to disrupt several economies with attendant severe health and socio-economic consequences across the world, Gilead Sciences, producer of Remdesivir, has disclosed it plans to charge for its experimental antiviral drug, which has gained emergency authorisation to treat Coronavirus.

ConsumerConnect gathered that as with nearly all drug prices, it’s not a simple formula. The drugmaker will charge hospitals more than it charges the government, says the company.

A Wall Street Journal analysis also showed that the typical hospital patient with commercial insurance would be charged $3,120 for an average course of treatment.

However, what the consumer ends up paying would depend on their health benefits coverage, according to the report.

The government would pay the lowest price for people covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

The cost would be $390 per dose, which works out to $2,340 for the shortest treatment period.

For cases that take longer to treat, the total cost could be $4,290.

Hospital patients receiving the shortest course of Remdesivir would be charged $520 per dose, or $3,120 for the shortest treatment course.

The cost could total more than $5,000 for cases requiring a longer treatment period, said the report.

It was further learnt that the drug company could face some serious pushback from consumer groups and some members of Congress.

Peter Maybarduk, Director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Programme, late May 2020, made the argument that Gilead relied on help and funding from the United States (US) Government to develop Remdesivir.

Maybarduk said: “Gilead did not make this drug alone. Public funding was indispensable, and government scientists led the early drug discovery team. It appears the public owns its stake.”

However, he stated that the government has an obligation to ensure that Remdesivir is priced affordably, and does not stretch healthcare budgets during the pandemic.

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