The Cost of Treatment: Government Looking at Addressing Costs

Posted at 8:18 AM, May 13, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — There's concern among COVID-19 patients and their families about how much getting treatment could cost. With at least one new drug showing promise Joe St. George looks at what you or your insurance company might be asked to pay.

As COVID19 continues to paralyze our lives in laboratories all across the country the race to find a cure or at the very least a treatment is on. One promising solution is Remdesivir developed by Gilead Sciences Inc. With the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently publishing “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?

We looked at the fair pricing from two different perspectives.
Dr. Steve Pearson, Director of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review

Dr. Steve Pearson is Director of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review out of Boston who 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.

You see even though the National Institute of Health headquartered in Bethesda, MD 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.

This drug did have funding support in its earlier years of development from the NIH so the federal government has participated in the funding to help development of this drug, our traditional system doesn’t take that into consideration.

Well Congress is keeping an eye on this.

A letter has been sent to the Health and Human Services Secretary asking for oversight.

Democratic Congressman Jason Crow shared that “Taxpayers are often the angel investors in pharmaceutical research and development, yet this is not reflected in the prices they pay.

If cost becomes a barrier to people getting the treatment. Getting vaccines or getting the treatment then we are not going to solve this public health crisis. What happens next with Remdesiver is very much in the hands of Gilead, with the nation watching.

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