Coronavirus vaccine update: Pharma giant Gilead draws flak for lack of empathy after drug is priced at Rs 1.76 lakh
Photo Credit: AFP

The maker of a drug shown to shorten recovery time for severely ill COVID-19 patients says it will charge USD 2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programmes in the United States and other developed countries.

Gilead Sciences announced the price Monday for remdesivir, and said the price would be USD 3,120 for patients with private insurance. The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors. "We're in uncharted territory with pricing a new medicine, a novel medicine, in a pandemic," Gilead's chief executive, Dan O'Day, told The Associated Press.

However, the price was swiftly criticised, neztizens took to Twitter and slammed the pharma company. One user said, "Gilead Sciences charging $2,340 for a 5-day course of Remdesivir that maybe reduces time to recovery, doesn’t improve survival, and is likely inferior to the much cheaper dexamethasone for ventilated patients reveals Big Pharma’s greed and opportunism during this pandemic."

Another user said, "An independent study found the cost to actually manufacture this potential covid treatment was $9.32. Taxpayers helped fund the research and we're paying a 33,376% markup."

Here's what netizens had to say:

The treatment courses that the company has donated to the US and other countries will run out in about a week, and the prices will apply to the drug after that, O'Day said. In the US, federal health officials have allocated the limited supply to states, but that agreement with Gilead will end after September.

They said Monday that the US government has secured more than 500,000 additional courses that Gilead will produce starting in July to supply to hospitals through September, and stressed that that does not mean the government actually was acquiring that much, just ensuring the availability.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a nonprofit group that analyzes drug prices, said remdesivir would be cost-effective in a range of USD 4,580 to USD 5,080 if it saved lives. But recent news that a cheap steroid called dexamethasone improves survival means remdesivir should be priced between USD 2,520 and USD 2,800, the group said.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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