How much does Gilead's Covid-19 drug remdesivir cost? Priced at $3,120 for US patients with insurance

For government programs in the US such as Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense hospitals, the cost stands at $2,340

                            How much does Gilead's Covid-19 drug remdesivir cost? Priced at $3,120 for US patients with insurance
(Getty Images)

The speculations over the pricing of remdesivir, the only Covid-19 drug approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration, has been laid to rest. The drugmaker Gilead Sciences has fixed a price, which varies for government programs and private insurance companies. Remdesivir will charge governments of developed countries $390 per vial for a patient, taking the full course treatment to $2,340. In the US, the same price will apply for government programs such as Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense hospitals. Private insurance companies, however, will have to shell out $520 per vial, coming upto $3,120 per patient.

In an open letter, Daniel O’Day, Chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences said at this price patients will have access to the drug. "In the developing world, where healthcare resources, infrastructure, and economics are so different, we have entered into agreements with generic manufacturers to deliver treatment at a substantially lower cost," he added. Earlier, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, an independent group that evaluates the clinical and economic value of prescription drugs, suggested a price range of  $4,580 to $5,080 per treatment course for remdesivir.

Gilead's O’Day said that their drug is the first antiviral to have shown benefits in clinical trials for Covid-19. Those on the remdesivir recovered by 11 days, as opposed to the placebo group's 15 days. The drug appears most beneficial for people who require oxygen support but are not sick enough to need a ventilator.  “We now have solid data showing that remdesivir diminishes to a modest degree the time to recovery for people hospitalized with Covid-19,” NIAID Director Dr  Anthony Fauci, said.

Vice President Mike Pence and Gilead Sciences Chairman and CEO Daniel O'Day. (Getty Images)

Shorter recovery time and early discharge from hospitals could help a patient save approximately $12,000. "Even just considering these immediate savings to the healthcare system alone, we can see the potential value that remdesivir provides. This is before we factor in the direct benefit to those patients who may have a shorter stay in the hospital,"  the CEO argued. The company has donated its stock of supplies to the US through the end of June. 

The company said it was pricing the drug well below this value. Governments of developed countries will need to pay $390 per vial. In the US, "The government price is applicable to the Big Four federal agencies (Veterans' Affairs, Indian Health Services, Department of Defense and the Coast Guard), as well as other government direct purchasers like the Federal Bureau of Prisons, once on the Federal Supply Schedule," a Gilead spokesperson told CNN. This discounted price, however, does not apply to Medicare and Medicaid. "Hospitals purchase inpatient drugs at commercial pricing and are then reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at set rates," the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences has signed an agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As per the deal, the health department and states will manage the allocation of the drug to hospitals through September. "President Trump has secured half a million courses of treatment of remdesivir through September," HHS Secretary Alex Azar Azar told ABC. 

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