Manufacturer sets price for new COVID-19 antiviral drug

Gilead Sciences Inc. has pegged the price of its COVID-19 antiviral remdesivir at $2,340 per patient for wealthier nations and agreed to send nearly all of its supply of the drug to the United States over the next three months. Remdesivir is expected to be in high demand as one of the only treatments so far shown to alter the course of COVID-19.

After the intravenously administered medicine helped shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial, it won emergency use authorization in the United States and full approval in Japan.

The drug is believed to be most effective in treating patients earlier in the course of disease than dexamethasone, which reduced deaths in patients requiring supportive oxygen and those on a ventilator. In an open letter, Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day said the price is well below the value it provides given that early hospital discharges could save around $12,000 per patient in the United States. Meanwhile, reacting to the price tag, U.S.

Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas, said it was an outrageous price for a very modest drug, which taxpayer funding saved from a scrap heap of failures.

There are currently more cases of COVID-19 in the United States than in Europe, with several U.S. states hitting new records for numbers of cases.

Analysts at Royal Bank of Canada forecast the drug could generate $2.3 billion in revenue 2020, helping offset more than $1 billion in development and distribution costs.

They said additional profits could be limited because vaccines and better treatments are on the horizon. The European Union’s healthcare regulator last week recommended conditional approval of the drug when used in the critically ill.

Gilead has linked up with generic drug makers based in India and Pakistan, including Cipla Ltd and Hetero Labs Ltd, to make and supply remdesivir in 127 developing countries. Cipla’s version is priced at less than 5,000 Indian rupees ($66.24), while Hetero Lab’s version is priced at 5,400 rupees ($71.54).

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