Oct 1, 2020 - Health

Remdesivir is good business for Gilead

a remdesivir bottle
Photo: Ulrich Perrey/POOL/AFP

Remdesivir has shown only modest results against the coronavirus so far, but is expected to rake in billions for Gilead over the next two years, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Remdesivir is currently one of our only treatments for the virus, but even so, there are questions about whether its price tag is justified.

Driving the news: The government is no longer in charge of distributing the drug as of yesterday, and Gilead is seeking full approval for the drug by the Food and Drug Administration, which would likely expand its use.

  • Remdesivir costs $3,120 per course, and is set to bring in more than $9 billion for Gilead in 2020 and 2021, according to an estimate by a Credit Suisse investment analyst.

Yes, but: The most conclusive evidence so far found that the drug reduces hospital stays from 15 to 11 days, but does not significantly decrease a patients' likelihood of dying.

  • "The drug clearly has some kind of benefit, but it's really not clear how great of a benefit it is," Walid Gellad, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine, told the Post. "The pricing is based on this drug that has a huge impact, and it's turning out that it does not have a huge impact."

The other side: "The bottom line is that clinical data demonstrate that patients taking Veklury (remdesivir) recover four days faster than those taking placebo, and Veklury costs less than a one-day hospital stay, resulting in immediate savings to the health care system," Gilead spokesman Chris Ridley told the Post.

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