The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has agreed to buy 500,000 remdesivir treatment courses, in the wake of clinical trials revealing the drug can help patients recover from the faster. A five-day course will cost $2,340,or $3,120 for commercially insured patients, biotech firm Gilead Sciences said.
Early last month, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for remdesivir to be used in cases of COVID-19 where patients were “hospitalized with severe disease,” shortly after the drug showed “clear-cut positive effect” in a US trial.
“To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a release.
It comes a day after the total number of confirmed cases crossed 10 million globally, with 500,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 database. As of early Monday, the US had more than 2.5 million confirmed cases, with over 125,000 deaths and 685,000 recoveries.
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Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day addressed the higher price for private insurers, according to health site Stat, by noting that there are “always two prices” for a drug in the US. In an open letter, he acknowledged that the company’s work on remdesivir is “far from done.”
“We continue to explore its potential to help in this pandemic in various ways, such as evaluating 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,” he wrote.
He also said that countries in the developing world will get the drug at greatly reduced prices, through generic manufacturers.
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