This past Monday, Gilead Sciences announced its prices for the coronavirus treatment drug remdesivir, and the prices have been met with high criticism.
Gilead Sciences, the maker of the drug remdesivir, which has been shown to reduce recovery times in COVID-19 patients by as much as 31%, says it will charge $2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programs in the US. For patients that have private health insurance, the price for a remdesivir treatment will be $3,120. The amount that patients pay out of pocket will depend on their insurance, income, and other factors.
Gilead's chief executive, Dan O'Day, told The Associated Press, "We're in uncharted territory with pricing a new medicine, a novel medicine, in a pandemic. We believe that we had to really deviate from the normal circumstances." The price of this treatment has been met with heavy criticism, Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic said, "This is a high price for a drug that has not been shown to reduce mortality. Given the serious nature of the pandemic, I would prefer that the government take over production and distribute the drug for free. It was developed using significant taxpayer funding."
Some people have even gone as far to call the pricing an "outrage" due to how much public funding was thrown behind the drug. According to Peter Maybarduk, who is a lawyer at the consumer group Public Citizen, "This is a drug that received at least $70 million in public funding. Remdesivir should be in the public domain."
Dr. Peter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York said, "The price puts to rest any notion that drug companies will 'do the right thing' because it is a pandemic. The price might have been fine if the company had demonstrated that the treatment saved lives. It didn't."
Gilead said it would have spent $1 billion on the developing and manufacturing of the drug by the end of this year. However, Jefferies pharmaceuticals analyst Michael Yee said that at the current price of the drug Gilead expects to make $525 million on remdesivir sales this year, and $2.1 billion next year.
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