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How much will remdesivir treatment cost for Americans with COVID-19

The drug remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 will cost $ 3120 for a typical patient from the USA who has private insurance, writes Fox Business.

Photo: Shutterstock

Gilead Sciences Inc. published its pricing plans for remdesivir used to treat COVID-19, saying US hospitals will charge $ 3120 for a typical patient with commercial insurance.

On Monday, June 29, the drug maker announced its pricing plans, adding that they will start charging in July. Until then, remdesivir donated by Gilead after the drug was approved for emergency use in May has been distributed to US hospitals.

According to the company’s plans, Gilead will charge a higher price for patients with private insurance in the USA, lower prices for patients with US government health programs such as Medicare, and all other developed countries who insure their patients directly.

The state price will be $ 390 per dose or $ 2340 for the patient who received the shortest course of treatment, and $ 4290 for a longer course of treatment.

Gilead said that patients insured on a commercial basis, with non-governmental buyers, such as hospitals, will be charged about $ 520 per dose, or one third more than the state price. For a patient receiving a shorter, more frequently used course of treatment, this is $ 3120, and for longer treatment - $ 5720.

On the subject: 'Save lives around the world': a cheap and popular drug reduces mortality from COVID-19

The United States is the only developed country where Gilead charges two prices, Executive Director Daniel O'Day said in an interview. In other countries, governments are negotiating drug prices directly with their manufacturers.

“The logic is that we wanted a single state price in developed countries,” O'Day said.

The higher price for commercially insured patients in the United States is because public health programs like Medicaid usually get statutory discounts on the prices that companies get on the private market.

“This medicine is priced much lower than the benefits it brings to healthcare systems, and this is true for private and public payers,” O'Day said.

According to him, on average, a drug should help reduce hospital costs by $ 12 per patient. According to O'Day, Gilead estimated the savings based on data showing that hospitalization costs $ 000 each day and that patients taking remdesivir are discharged 3000 days earlier than those who receive standard treatment.

Patients with COVID-19 receive two doses of remdesivir by infusion on the first day and one dose daily after it. The shortest course of treatment is 5 days, and the longer - 10 days. Currently, from 90 to 95% of patients undergo five-day courses of treatment.

Remdesivir is the first antiviral drug to have proven effective in treating COVID-19 in a large clinical trial, reducing patients' recovery time by 4 days compared to the placebo group in a large study funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

So far, few have shown that drugs for coronavirus infection are effective in testing in humans. One drug recently tested positive in clinical trials was the steroid dexamethasone. The drug, which treats COVID-19 by a different mechanism than remdesivir, has been used in the US market for decades to treat other diseases. Dexamethasone is not yet officially approved for the treatment of COVID-19 in the United States, but it is allowed to be prescribed "not according to approved indications."

Prices for remdesivir were discussed by doctors, insurers and investors. This price can serve as a starting point for assessing the cost of other drugs that are safe for treating patients with coronavirus.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Research, a nonprofit pharmaceutical price analysis group, said in the last week of June that the cost-effective price of remdesivir would be between $ 2520 and $ 2800 per patient if dexamethasone became the standard drug for treating COVID-19. Without dexamethasone, remdesivir would be cost-effective in the range of $ 4580 to $ 5080 per patient.

The US Food and Drug Administration on May 1 authorized the emergency use of remdesivir during a pandemic. Gilead plans to seek full, ongoing approval.

Gilead will start charging for the drug in July, but federal and state officials will continue to decide which hospitals will receive it. Gilead is expected to have enough supplies in September to meet demand, and the company will distribute the drug in the same way as other drugs.

One of the issues that has already been taken into account in the discussion about how much remdesivir should cost is the role of the US government in financing.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded a study that showed that the drug accelerated the recovery of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and plans to spend at least $ 30 million on the study by the end of the fiscal year.

On the subject: Surprise Accounts: What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Medical Insurance and Treatment

Gilead also invested in remdesivir research. The company had previously developed a drug to treat Ebola patients, but it did not work as well as other drugs. Gilead and other researchers have studied the use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 after the onset of the virus.

Gilead said it spent about $ 50 million on research and development related to the drug in the first quarter, or about 4,5% of the total costs for these purposes. According to O'Dey, by the end of 2020, Gilead plans to spend more than $ 1 billion on the development and production of remdesivir.

Some generic drug manufacturers have said they plan to purchase the drug for less than $ 1000 per course in India and Bangladesh, where Gilead has licensed sales rights. The raw materials needed to prepare remdesivir cost about $ 10 per patient for a 10-day course of treatment.

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