Gilead Sciences, the company that makes the Covid-19 drug remdesivir, announced in an open letter on Monday morning that it has decided to set a price of $390 per vial for the US government, which would include Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense hospitals, and other governments of developed countries.
The discounted government price would not apply to Medicare or Medicaid, a Gilead spokesperson told CNN.
A typical five-day treatment course would include six vials, which would equate to $2,340 per patient, Daniel O'Day, Gilead Sciences chairman and CEO, said in the letter. The US government will continue to manage US allocations of remdesivir to hospitals through September, the company said.
The letter added that the price for US private insurance companies will be $520 per vial, which adds up to $3,120 per patient for a five-day treatment course of six vials.
"As with all our actions on remdesivir, we approached this with the aim of helping as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible and in the most responsible way. This has been our compass point throughout, from collaborating to find rapid answers on safety and efficacy, to scaling up manufacturing and donating our supply of remdesivir through the end of June. In each case, we recognized the need to do things differently to reflect the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic. Now, as we transition beyond the donation period and set a price for remdesivir, the same principle applies," O'Day said in the letter.
About the drug: Remdesivir, which is currently administered intravenously through infusions, is the only drug that has an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus infections.
Until now, remdesivir treatments had been donated to the US government and allocated by the US Department of Health and Human Services and states. However, the US government’s last scheduled shipments of that donation are going out today.
"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," O'Day said. "Gilead has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whereby HHS and states will continue to manage allocation to hospitals until the end of September. After this period, once supplies are less constrained, HHS will no longer manage allocation."
HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced that agreement during an appearance on “Good Morning America” on Monday.
"President Trump has secured half a million courses of treatment of remdesivir through September," Azar told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
CORRECTION: This post has been updated to show that Medicaid does not get the discounted price, but the VA and Department of Defense hospitals do.