Remdesivir, the only drug approved for the treatment of COVID-19 anywhere in the world, will be available at different prices in developed and developing countries.
Gilead Sciences, Inc., the California-based firm that developed remdesivir, announced the pricing and other details Monday. The pricing takes effect worldwide in July.
Remdesivir, which remains an investigational treatment, is the first antiviral anywhere to have demonstrated patient improvement in clinical trials for COVID-19.
Chairman and CEO Daniel O'Day said the company will sell remdesivir for $390 per vial to governments of developed countries around the world such as the United States. On the other hand, O'Day said pricing in the developing world will be set by the five generics drug makers that will make and distribute the drug in 127 countries.
O'Day said Gilead Sciences entered into the agreements with these generic manufacturers "to deliver treatment at a substantially lower cost. These alternative solutions are designed to ensure that all countries in the world can provide access to treatment."
In mid-May, Gilead Sciences signed non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with five generic pharmaceutical manufacturers based in India, Pakistan and the United States to rapidly expand the availability of remdesivir.
These five firms will distribute remdesivir in low-income and lower-middle-income countries, as well as several upper-middle- and high-income countries. The licensing agreement allows these firms to manufacture remdesivir for distribution in 127 countries, excluding the United States.
These generics makers are Indian firms Cipla Ltd., Hetero Labs Ltd. and Jubilant Lifesciences, the Pakistani firm Ferozsons Laboratories and the U.S. firm Mylan N.V. based in Pennsylvania.
In the U.S., the same price of $390 per vial will apply. O'Day noted the price for U.S. private insurance companies will be $520 per vial because of the way the U.S. healthcare system is set up and the discounts government healthcare programs expect.
He explained the vast majority of patients should receive a 5-day treatment course using 6 vials of remdesivir. This will amount to $2,340 per patient based on current treatment patterns for patients on the five-day treatment and $3,120 for commercially insured patients.
O'Day said Gilead Sciences' pricing decision will remove the need for country by country negotiations on price. He said the company discounted the price to a level affordable for developed countries with the lowest purchasing power. He said this price will be offered to all governments in developed countries around the world where remdesivir is approved or authorized for use.