Wednesday, 15 July, 2020

Remdesivir to cost $2,340 per COVID-19 patient

DENIS CHARLET  AFP via Getty Images DENIS CHARLET AFP via Getty Images
Gustavo Carr | 01 July, 2020, 04:10

In one scenario, the drug could cost up to $5,080 per treatment course if it significantly reduces mortality, according to The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.

Three days later, the drug was granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "In normal circumstances, we would price a medicine according to the value it provides", O'Day wrote. "This is before we factor in the direct benefit to those patients who may have a shorter stay in the hospital", the letter read.

The price tag is slightly below the range of $2,520 to $2,800 suggested last week by USA 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.

The company also said it is continuing to explore the potential of remdesivir as a treatment earlier in the course of the disease; in outpatient settings; with an inhaled formulation; in additional patient groups and in combination with other therapies.

According to O'Day, the company has entered into an agreement with the USA department of health and human services (HHS) whereby HHS and states will continue to manage allocation to hospitals until the end of September.

After donating its 1.5 million doses of Remdesivir to the US government to allocate on an as-needed basis through the end of June, the company also announced that it will begin charging for the drug from July 1, 2020. "We priced it at the value, at the price that allows for access across the developed world".

"Part of the intent behind our decision was to remove the need for country by country negotiations on price", O'Day wrote.

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In 2019, the company defended what many called "price-gouging" for its HIV drug Truvada to a House committee, claiming the high cost pays for the research behind its development, the Washington Post reported previous year.

"In the US, the same government price of $390 per vial will apply".

According to the CDC, roughly 300,000 individuals in the USA have been hospitalized since March 1 with COVID-19 (98.4 per 100,000 population), and over 125,000 have died.

"At this price we expect routine adoption of remdesivir for nearly all moderate to severe Covid patients in the U.S". The group added that it had reached an agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services to manage the allocation of the treatment through the end of September while supplies are constrained.

As for dexamethasone, United Kingdom researchers recently announced that the treatment led to a 35% reduction in death rate among seriously ill, mechanically ventilated patients and 20% for those on oxygen support without invasive ventilation in a large-scale clinical trial dubbed Recovery.

The developing world will see treatment "at a substantially lower cost", with O'Day citing "healthcare resources, infrastructure and economics" as the reasons.