The US has bought almost the entire global supply of remdesivir, the anti-viral drug that can speed the recovery of patients infected with the coronavirus.
Health and Human Services Secretary announced earlier this week an agreement to secure large quantities of the medication from Gilead Sciences until September, allowing US hospitals to buy it.
“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19,” Azar said in a statement.
“To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it. The Trump Administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for COVID-19 and secure access to these options for the American people.”
HHS said it secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug.
“This represents 100 percent of Gilead’s projected production for July (94,200 treatment courses), 90 percent of production in August (174,900 treatment courses), and 90 percent of production in September (232,800 treatment courses), in addition to an allocation for clinical trials,” it said.
Remdesivir will cost $3,120 for the typical patient with private health insurance, the drugmaker said Monday, adding that it will costs hospitals about $520 per dose for privately insured patients.
The shorter, more common course of treatment would work out to $3,120, while the longer duration would cost $5,720, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The anti-viral drug is the only one approved by the European Medicines Agency to treat coronavirus patients, according to Euronews.
Another drug found to have an effect on coronavirus patients is the steroid dexamethasone, which reduces the number of deaths in the most severely ill patients by up to a third, the news outlet reported, citing British researchers.
“They’ve got access to most of the drug supply [of remdesivir], so there’s nothing for Europe,” Dr. Andrew Hill, senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University, told the UK’s Guardian.
“This is the first major approved drug, and where is the mechanism for access? Once again we’re at the back of the queue,” he said.
Hill added the UK could still get its hands on remdesivir through what is known as a compulsory license, which overrides the intellectual property rights of the company.
That would allow the UK to purchase from generic companies in Bangladesh or India, where Gilead’s patent is not recognized, the Guardian reported.