Gilead Sciences, the drugmaker for remdesivir, the promising new coronavirus treatment, has announced that it will begin charging for the drug in July. The pharmaceutical company had been donating some of the medication for government distribution since May when it received emergency authorization use.
Next month, the drugmaker said the drug would cost the government $390 per vial, while private insurance companies will be charged $520 per vial. The typical treatment plan will cost hospitals $3,120 for each coronavirus patient in the U.S. with commercial insurance. Medicare and other government programs will be charged less than private insurers. The actual out-of-pocket costs for private insured patients will depend on the person’s insurance plan.
The $390 charged for each vial also applies to other developed countries outside of the U.S.
Most coronavirus patients who receive remdesivir will get six vials of the medication over a five-day course. The government cost for such a treatment plan amounts to $2,340, while the commercial insurance cost adds up to $3,120.
Should a U.S. patient require a 10-day course of treatment, the cost will go up for $4,290 a treatment for government-funded patients and $5,720 for privately-insured patients.
Daniel O’Day, Gilead CEO, stated: “Whether you’re covered by a private insurer, whether you’re covered by a government insurer, whether you’re uninsured with COVID-19, there will not be an issue for access with remdesivir.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, uninsured patients are covered under the CARES Act provisions.
O’Day said the way Gilead structured the price, it will ensure more access for patients who need it. The $390 price tier was established by comparing other developed countries with minimal purchasing power. O’Day said this method helped to avert negotiations that could otherwise slow down access to the medication.
While the FDA has officially approved no COVID-19 treatments, researchers have found success in reducing the recovery time of critically ill coronavirus patients through remdesivir.
Gilead pointed out that this saves lives and minimizes the cost for hospitals in the end. Coronavirus treatment will cost hospitals an average of $12,000 less per patient because patients can be discharged earlier. A National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease study showed that remdesivir shortens the recovery time of in-hospital patients by around four days compared to patients who don’t take the drug.
Gilead said it’s entered into partnerships with generic drug manufacturers to offer the medication at a “substantially lower cost.”
By Monday mid-morning, Gilead shares were 1 percent higher on the news. Gilead also plans to begin human trials for an inhaled version of remdesivir. In the meantime, the company is ramping production of the vials to meet the increased demand as the virus rages on.