Economy

Developing countries will pay less for COVID-19 drug - Gilead reveals

Developing countries will pay less for COVID-19 drug - Gilead reveals”

Gilead Sciences Inc has priced its COVID-19 drug candidate remdesivir at $2,340 for a five-day treatment in the United States and some other developed countries, potentially reflecting looming competition from a cheap steroid. The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors.

Gilead also said it agreed to continue to send its supply of remdesivir to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with the agency and states set to manage allocation to US hospitals until the end of September. "We priced it at the value, at the price that allows for access across the developed world".

O'Day added that remdesivir's pricing has been a "topic that has attracted more speculation than any other" since USA regulators approved its emergency use in some COVID-19 patients in May. Gilead expects to spend about $1 billion developing and distributing remdesivir this year alone.

Trials produced encouraging results earlier this year when it showed promise for both preventing and treating MERS - another coronavirus - in macaque monkeys.

It's not entirely clear how the drug accomplishes this feat, but it seems to stop the genetic material of the virus, RNA, from being able to copy itself.

They said on 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.

Gilead has linked up with generic drugmakers based in India and Pakistan, including Cipla Ltd and Hetero Labs Ltd, to make and supply remdesivir in 127 developing countries.

Gilead touts the drug's ability to save hospitals about $12,000 per patient by shortening hospital stays; a study published in May of 1,063 patients from around the world revealed that the drug reduced recovery time from 15 days to 11 days.

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It had not improved survival according to preliminary results after two weeks of followup.

The price tag is slightly below the range of $2,520 to $2,800 suggested last week by U.S. drug pricing research group the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) after British researchers said they found that the cheap, widely available steroid dexamethasone significantly reduced mortality among severely ill COVID-19 patients. However, if low-priced steroid dexamethasone-which made a big splash recently with preliminary data-does deliver peer-reviewed data showing it can save the lives of seriously ill patients, remdesivir's price should drop to the range of $2,520 to $2,800, according to ICER.

Remdesivir is expected to be in high demand as one of the only treatments shown to alter the course of COVID-19.

The first drug shown to help coronavirus patients recover in clinical trials now has a price tag. "Given the serious nature of the pandemic, I would prefer that the government take over production and distribute the drug for free".

Peter Maybarduk, a lawyer at the consumer group Public Citizen, called the price "an outrage".

"Remdesivir should be in the public domain" because the drug received at least US$70 million ($102 million) in public funding toward its development, he said. "The price might have been fine if the company had demonstrated that the treatment saved lives".

Right now, Gilead's planning to test an inhaled formulation of the drug for potential use in patients with earlier stages of the disease.

At the $2,340 government purchase price, Gilead could collect revenue of about $2.3 billion from selling around 1.5 million remdeisivr treatment course in 2020, RBC Capital analyst Brian Abrahams wrote in a Monday note to clients.



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