Gilead Sciences criticized for expensive pricing of COVID-fighting drug, remdesivir
When Gilead Sciences announced its discovery of a promising treatment for some coronavirus patients, the public was ecstatic, but now many are criticizing Gilead for its failure to quickly create a cheaper alternative for the expensive drug.
ABC News reports that the most vocal of critics are state leaders and a government watchdog group that have leveled complaints against the company for the price point it set for its antiviral drug remdesivir.
Earlier this week, Gilead sought official approval for remdesivir from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but in May, regulators fast-tracked its use under an emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 patients.
By late June, Gilead set its price at $520 per dose for U.S. private insurance companies and $390 per dose for the U.S. government.
Most patients receive a five-day treatment, meaning the total charged for those with private insurers adds up to $3,120. For those enrolled in government health programs, that total is $2,340.
“Gilead, on the one hand, has a product that helps people” said Dr. Erin Fox, the senior pharmacy director at the University of Utah. “But on the other hand, it does feel like they’re taking advantage of the situation.”
As many disagree with the California-based pharmaceutical giant's choices in regards to pricing, Gilead argues that it faces the “unique situation” of conducting business during a global pandemic, and saying it's guided by its "responsibility to patients."
Early in the pandemic, it committed to donating 1.5 million doses of the drug worldwide.
A Gilead spokesperson said the company is doing its best to navigate a difficult period in a way that helps those in need, and supports the company’s work financially.
“Throughout the pandemic, our responsibility to patients has guided all of our actions, and this holds true for our approach to remdesivir pricing,” the spokesperson said. “The unique situation of this pandemic requires a unique solution to ensure remdesivir is accessible to patients around the world, while also balancing the need to recoup our investment to date and continue to invest in this medicine and research that will prepare us for emerging pandemic threats.”
Gilead also announced this week that it would investigate the less-expensive alternative to remdesivir after the company faced accusations of suppressing it for financial considerations.
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