DURBAN – Gilead the drugmaker behind the experimental Covid-19 treatment Remdesivir has announced that it will charge governments in developed countries about R 40,629 ($2,340) for the five-day treatment course and R 6 725,69 ($390) per vial.
While in the US the company said it will charge R 8 959,12 ($520) per vial for patients with private insurance, with some government programs getting a lower price. With a double-dose the first day, that comes out to R 53 749,02 ($3,120) for the five-day treatment course.
Since the announcement, reactions have been mixed with patient advocacy groups and legislators calling the price tag greedy and excessive, while analysts and even an industry watchdog pegged the price as acceptable—and in some cases, lower than expected.
The company says it chose to charge governments a flat fee to remove the need for country by country negotiations on price.
“At the level we have priced Remdesivir and with government programs in place, along with additional Gilead assistance as needed, we believe all patients will have access,” Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter posted Monday morning.
Remdesivir, a medicine once seen as a potential Ebola treatment, is the only branded drug to receive emergency use approval from US regulators for treating Covid-19. Clinical trials of the drug, which is given intravenously, have found that it reduced the length of hospital stays for coronavirus patients by a statistically significant margin, although it did not reduce mortality rates.
Earlier today it was announced that the US government has bought virtually the entire production of the Covid-19 drug Remdesivir for the next three months.
According to a news release, the buyout represents 100 per cent of Gilead’s projected production for July, 90 percent of August’s production, and 90 percent of production through September. A further “allocation for clinical trials” has also been secured.
Experts and campaigners have voiced their concern both by the US unilateral action on Remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available.
Gilead has a patent on remdesivir, making it the only company able to manufacture the drug. That effectively means any other country that wants it may have to wait until at least September to procure it.
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