Statement on Gilead charging $3,120 for COVID treatment Remdesivir

Statement from Margarida Jorge, campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now:

“It’s become clear that the only way we’re going to get COVID under control is through a safe, affordable and accessible vaccine. Yet, despite massive taxpayer investments into the development of remdesivir, and guarantees by the company that it will make the drug affordable, Gilead has decided to once again gouge patients.

“Gilead and other Big Pharma corporations have a pattern of donating medicines or promising affordability for positive PR, before turning around and charging sky high prices to line their pockets. The Trump Administration was asked point blank if they would ensure that COVID vaccines and treatments will be made affordable, and they refused. Now patients will pay the price. Congress must step in to end monopoly price control and ensure that COVID drugs are affordable.”

Background:

Remdesivir:

  • The cost recovery model suggests a price of $1 per day for Remdesivir.
  • Gilead is expected to make about $1.3 billion from the drug in 2020 alone. The drugmaker has said it spent about $1 billion to develop remdesivir, in addition to at least $60 million from US taxpayers.
  • Remdesivir was developed largely with public funding from National Institutes of Health and publicly funded research universities.
  • American taxpayers spent at least $60 million on the research and development of Remdesivir by the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control. And both the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization are sponsoring Remdesivir’s clinical trials.
  • Gilead successfully used an FDA loophole to secure an extra-long monopoly for Remdesivir and special tax credits by claiming that COVID-19 was a ‘rare disease.’ Even though the FDA approved this patent extension, the public backlash was so swift and fierce that Gilead rescinded their application.

Gilead has a long record of price gouging on drugs developed at taxpayer expense:

  • PrEP (Truvada), a drug to prevent HIV/AIDS, was developed with extensive taxpayer funding through the NIH. Still, Gilead charges up to $20,000 per year for the medication in the U.S., blocking generics in order to protect its monopoly price control. The same medicine is available in other countries for around $60 per year.
  • CDC studies have shown there are 1 million people (mostly people of color) who should be on PrEP who aren’t because they can’t afford it.
  • Sovaldi, a drug for Hepatitis C, was developed at Emory University and the Dept of Veterans Affairs. Gilead received monopoly price control over the drug by buying another corporation that managed to get ownership of the public research. The company charges $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 per treatment.

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