- The Washington Times - Monday, June 29, 2020

The U.S. secured half a million treatment courses of a drug that’s been shown to speed the recovery of coronavirus patients, the Trump administration said Monday.

Health Secretary Alex Azar said the deal with Gilead Sciences will ensure a steady supply of remdesivir for American hospitals through September.

“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19,” Mr. Azar said. “To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it.”

Remdesivir made headlines in May, when the National Institutes of Health said the antiviral drug sped up the recovery time of patients by 31%.

The Health and Human Services Department said on Monday it will ship the final allocation of 120,000 treatment courses that Gilead donated amid the pandemic, which has killed over 125,000 people in the U.S.

The administration said in the coming months, it will ship supplies of the drug directly to hospitals based on each state’s burden from COVID-19 and state-allocation decisions.

Gilead on Monday announced it is charging Medicare and other government health programs in developed countries $390 per vial, or $2,340 per patient under a six-vial course of treatment.

It will charge $3,120 for patients using private insurance.

“In the weeks since we learned of remdesivir’s potential against COVID-19, one topic has attracted more speculation than any other: what price we might set for the medicine. This degree of speculation is understandable,” Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter. “Remdesivir, our investigational treatment, is the first antiviral to have demonstrated patient improvement in clinical trials for COVID-19 and there is no playbook for how to price a new medicine in a pandemic.”

The company will offer the drug at a significant discount to developing countries with low purchasing power by allowing generic makers to supply it, with two nations offering it at about $600 per treatment course, according to The Associated Press.

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