A clinical trial for the COVID-19 treatment remdesivir has yielded shorter recovery times for patients enrolled in the study. Gilead Sciences, the company who worked with government agencies to develop it, expects to price it at more than $3,000 per patient in the U.S.
The treatment’s clinical trials began with 400 patients testing five-day and 10-day treatments as the drug’s effectiveness was being studied. The trials eventually extended to 5,600 patients with the virus, adding patients who were on ventilators.
Gilead Sciences worked with the FDA, the CDC, the WHO, and several other health organizations, researchers and clinicians in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
As Gilead moved on to a second “simple study,” 1,600 patients were tested and the treatment’s safety and effectiveness was observed.
“Unlike traditional drug development, we are attempting to evaluate an investigational agent alongside an evolving global pandemic. Multiple concurrent studies are helping inform whether remdesivir is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19 and how to best utilize the drug,” Merdad Parsey, MD, Ph.D., chief medical officer at Gilead Sciences said. “The study demonstrates the potential for some patients to be treated with a five-day regimen, which could significantly expand the number of patients who could be treated with our current supply of remdesivir. This is particularly important in the setting of a pandemic, to help hospitals and healthcare workers treat more patients in urgent need of care.”
On Monday, the CEO of Gilead Sciences Daniel O’Day wrote an open letter and revealed that the initial cost for remdesivir would be $390 per vial and a five-day treatment, the total for the drug would equal $2,340 per patient.
However, in the U.S. the price point will be a little higher, as Gilead said, “Because of the way the U.S. system is set up and the discounts that government healthcare programs expect, the price for U.S. private insurance companies will be $520 per vial.”
At a $520 price point, a typical five-day, six-vial treatment would be $3,120 per patient, leaving Gilead to believe that it can be made available for all who need it.
“Remdesivir, our investigational treatment, is the first antiviral to have demonstrated patient improvement in clinical trials for COVID-19 and there is no playbook for how to price a new medicine in a pandemic,” O’Day said. “We are aware of the significant responsibility that comes with pricing remdesivir, and the need to be transparent on our decision.”
While Remdesivir was approved for Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA in order to conduct its testing, Gilead awaits full approval.