A bipartisan multistate coalition is encouraging the federal government to increase the availability and affordability of Remdesivir patients hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD). It is the first antiviral that has showed promising results in clinical trials.
Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 given Remdesivir showed a decrease in recovery time by an average of four days based on the first results of a study conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
On Tuesday, the coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use their legal authority under the Bayh-Dole Act to increase the availability of Remdesivir at an affordable price during the pandemic.
Bipartisan coalition says Gilead Sciences unable to assure sufficient supply of Remdisivir
In the letter to the HHS, FDA, and NIH, the bipartisan coalition wrote Gilead Sciences received millions of dollars of federal funding to develop and manufacture Remdesivir.
The bipartisan coalition noted that the biopharmaceutical company has been unable to assure a sufficient supply of Remdesivir despite receiving substantial taxpayer monies. More than 4.63 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and 154,000 died as of August 3, 2020.
Gilead Sciences plans to produce two million Remdesivir treatment courses by the end of 2020. A full treatment requires anywhere from six and ten vials. The biopharmaceutical company is expected to produce between 12 million to 20 million vials of the antiviral drug.
That number will only cover the full treatment required for about 50% of the current confirmed patients with COVID-19 in the United States, according to the coalition.
Gilead Sciences’ puts profit margins first over Americans with COVID-19
Additionally, the bipartisan coalition mentioned a study indicating that the cost to manufacture Remdesivir is only 93 cents per day or $12.50 per patient. However, Gilead Sciences plans to charge government programs $2,340 for a six-vial, five-day treatment course ($390 per vial) of Remdesivir.
It will cost patients under Medicare and Medical as well as those covered by private health insurance 33% more at $3,120 or $520 per vial for the same treatment course.
The bipartisan coalition stated, “It is unfortunate that Gilead has chosen to place its profit margins over the interests of Americans suffering in this pandemic … If Americans who need Remdesivir find themselves unable to afford a treatment course, then federal agencies have sufficient reason to require Gilead to ‘license both the background patents and the patents stemming from the contract work’ under the Bayh-Dole Act.”
In a statement, AG Becerra said, “During this unprecedented crisis, we must use every possible resource and tool available to save the lives of Americans who are falling ill from COVID-19. With coronavirus cases rising across the nation, our leaders must step up and do what is best for the people. We cannot afford to leave the supply of this critical medication to chance and the whims of the marketplace when it was funded in part by taxpayer dollars.”
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