Remdesivir, the investigational drug for the treatment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), will be sold for $390 per vial, according to an open letter from Daniel O’Day, chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences. Because most patients are expected to receive a 5-day treatment course using 6 vials, this equates to approximately $2340 per patient.1

Furthermore, the letter noted that because of the discounts expected by government health care programs, the price for private insurance companies will be $520 per vial,1 resulting in an estimated $3120 for a typical US patient.2

According to the letter, remdesivir is the first antiviral to demonstrate patient improvement in clinical trials for COVID-19, and the pricing of the drug has been a major concern.

“There is no playbook for how to price a new medicine in a pandemic,” O’Day said in the letter.1

In a study of 53 patients who received a 10-day course of remdesivir, 68% showed a clinical improvement. A total of 23% experienced serious adverse effects (AEs), including acute kidney injury, hypotension, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, and septic shock.1

In normal circumstances, O’Day said drugs would be priced according to the value they provide. He pointed out that early research showed that remdesivir shortened COVID-19 recovery time by 4 days on average, resulting in an estimated savings of $12,000 per patient. These savings could provide major benefits both to the overall health care system and patients individually.1

According to the letter, $390 per vial is well below that value.1

“Part of the intent behind our decision was to remove the need for country by country negotiations on price,” O’Day wrote. “We discounted the price to a level that is affordable for developed countries with the lowest purchasing power.”1

In an interview with CNBC, O’Day said the company expects to see an exponential increase in supply starting in September, resulting in a total of 2 million treatment courses available by the end of the year.2 The US Department of Health and Human Services will continue to manage allocations of the drug to hospitals until the end of September, when supplies are expected to be less constrained.1

REFERENCES
  1. An Open Letter from Daniel O’Day, Chairman and CEO, Gilead Sciences [news release]. Gilead Sciences; June 29, 2020. https://stories.gilead.com/articles/an-open-letter-from-daniel-oday-june-29. Accessed June 29, 2020.
  2. CNBC. Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day on remdesivir pricing and ensuring access to treatment; June 29, 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/video/2020/06/29/gilead-ceo-remdesivir-pricing-access-supply-chain.html. Accessed June 29, 2020.