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How much would a COVID-19 treatment cost? Feds look at addressing costs

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Posted at 11:27 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 23:27:04-04

(WXYZ) — There's concern among COVID-19 patients and their families about how much getting treatment could cost. With at least one drug showing promise, we wanted to show you what you or your insurance company might be asked to pay.

Laboratories across the country are racing to find a cure – or at the very least – a treatment.

One promising solution is Remdesivir developed by Gilead Sciences Inc.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently published “Hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung involvement who received Remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received placebo.“

But,how much will this cost?

Dr. Steve Pearson is director of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review out of Boston. He says $4,500 dollars would be the fair price for the treatment based on his teams research.

What will Gilead charge? Unclear. Could be more. Could be less. But the company has a history of frustrating consumers.

In 2015, they charged $84,000 for their drug Sovaldi to treat Hepatitis C. That breaks down to around $1,000 per pill.

So far, the company has donated its entire initial supply of the drug to the federal government who will decide where it can be used. But eventually that will change.

Pearson says the country should watch more closely what happens next.

"It maybe the traditional way of letting a drug company name its price and let the market will bear is not going to be the smart way for the country or the world to approach this," he said.

Even though the National Institute of Health - headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, has spent nearly $700 million over the years researching coronavirus treatment - traditionally the government doesn’t share in the profits or set the price. The last time the federal government made a major attempt to set the price of any drug was post 9/11 and the anthrax scare.

A letter has been sent to the health and human services secretary asking for oversight.

“Taxpayers are often the angel investors in pharmaceutical research and development, yet this is not reflected in the prices they pay.

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