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Gilead announced the drug will go for $390 per vial in developed countries but is still expected to save the healthcare system money.
Battling COVID-19 may be a costly endeavor as remdesivir, the antiviral drug shown to shorten the time of recovery, is expected to cost thousands of dollars, according to an open letter from head of drug manufacturer Gilead.
In the letter Gilead Chairman and CEO Daniel O’Day writes that the drug will cost $390 a vial in developed countries. As patients are expected to receive a five-day treatment course using six vials of remdesivir, the total cost for the treatment will be about $2,340 per patient. Even at that price, the drug is expected to produce hospital savings of about $12,000 per patient, due to earlier discharge.
"In normal circumstances, we would price a medicine according to the value it provides," Day writes. "We have decided to price remdesivir well below this value."
Day goes on to say that, in developing countries, Gilead will enter into agreements with generic manufacturers to "deliver treatment at a substantially lower cost."
O’Day says that Gilead has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which tasks the agency and the states with managing allocation to hospitals until the end of September.
Previously, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for remdesivir after it was shown to shorten the time of recovery for COVID-19 in a clinical trial, though there is limited information of the safety and effectiveness in treating patients hospitalized with the disease.
The authorization allows the drug to be distributed in the country and administered intravenously by doctors to treat suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in children and adults with severe disease, i.e. low blood oxygen levels, in need of oxygen therapy, or on a mechanical ventilator.
Possible side effects of remdesivir include increased liver enzymes which may indicate inflammation or damage to liver cells, and infusion-related reactions like low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and shivering, according to the FDA.