Remdesivir is one of two drugs that has been shown to help coronavirus patients, and the US will basically own all of the upcoming doses of it. The Guardian reports that the Trump administration has purchased nearly all of the remdesivir that is available for the next three months. Specifically, it bought 500,000 treatment courses of the drug, which can accelerate a patient's recovery; that's 100% of maker Gilead's July production and 90% of what it will make over the following two months. A treatment course averages to 6.25 vials of the drug. The New York Times reports remdesivir will be "distributed under an unusual agreement with the federal government that establishes nonnegotiable prices": $3,120 for the full course for patients with private insurance. Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day tells STAT that because the drug shortens a patient's hospital stay, it can save $12,000 per patient.
In a statement, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar praised the "amazing deal" struck by the president, noting that "to the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it." Sky News reports that because Gilead has a patent on the drug, generic versions can only be sold to low- and middle-income countries, meaning wealthy nations won't have access to it for the next several months. As for how unusual the move is, Boston University health care economist Rena Conti tells the Times that she is "unaware of any other policy except perhaps in bioterrorism drugs where there might be country-specific supplies." (Read more remdesivir stories.)