Now that the FDA has approved the drug remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19, a big question looms: How much will it cost? The drug's manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, is donating its current stock, enough to treat about 140,000 patients, reports Barron's, but its pricing decision after that will be under scrutiny. Much will depend on data still to come in on the drug's effectiveness, but this "will set the bar for how all coronavirus treatments that come after remdesivir will be priced," writes Bob Herman at Axios.
- $4,500: A report issued last Friday by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a research group that offers guidance on pricing, said Gilead could charge about $4,500 per treatment course if further testing proves that it saves lives. It figures a treatment course of 10 days.
- $390: The group says the price could be $390 per course if the drug has a lesser effect: that is, it doesn't save lives, but it speeds up recovery by a few days, per Axios.
- $10: The report also provides a low range of $10, which it says would allow Gilead to recover the cost of making the drug but forgo any profits. How Reuters frames the issue in a headline: "Will Gilead price its coronavirus drug for public good or company profit?" The advocacy group Public Citizen is all for this $1-per-day model, arguing that "Gilead initially developed remdesivir as one of several candidate treatments for hepatitis C and has made tens of billions off its successful hepatitis C drugs."