Gilead Sciences is out with its much-anticipated price for a drug to treat COVID-19 patients: For a five-day treatment course of remdesivir, figure $3,120 for the typical US patient with commercial insurance, reports the Wall Street Journal. That would be the amount the drugmaker would charge the hospital, not the patient's out-of-pocket expense. The price is lower, $2,340, for those covered by government health care programs such as Medicare. Remdesivir made big headlines in April when a study showed that it could reduce hospital stays for coronavirus patients from 15 days to 11 days. All governments in the developed world, including the US, will be charged $390 per dose, while those in the developing world will receive discounts, per STAT News. The price for US insurers comes out to $520 per dose.
Patients would get two doses on their first day, then one dose on subsequent days. The most common treatment course is five days, though some patients (maybe 5% to 10%) would require a 10-day course. For the longer course, the cost would be $4,290 at the government price and $5,720 for US insurers. Gilead's price has been highly anticipated because it could set a precedent for other drugs to follow, and STAT notes that the figures generally fall within expectations. On the plus side, it should save hospitals money by allowing them to release patients earlier; on the other hand, it's not a cure, just a way to shorten hospital stays, and future drugs—perhaps this steroid—could prove more effective and make remdesivir less sought-after. (The news comes as cases in the US and the world continue to rise.)