Remdesivir to Cost Over 250,000 Yen Per COVID-19 Patient in Japan

TOKYO – Gilead Sciences Inc., the U.S. pharmaceutical firm that developed remdesivir, priced the antiviral drug at $2,340 dollars, equivalent to more than ¥250,000, per COVID-19 patient for wealthy countries like Japan.

In a letter published on Monday about the pricing decision, Chairman and CEO Daniel O'Day stated that the price for governments of developed countries would be $390 per vial.

“Based on current treatment patterns, the vast majority of patients are expected to receive a 5-day treatment course using 6 vials of remdesivir, which equates to $2,340 per patient,” he said.

He noted that the use of remdesivir in COVID-19 patients has shortened the recovery time by an average of four days, and cited that in the United States, an earlier discharge would result in hospital savings of approximately $12,000 per patient. “We have decided to price remdesivir well below this value,” O'Day said in this regard.

“Part of the intent behind our decision was to remove the need for country by country negotiations on price. We discounted the price to a level that is affordable for developed countries with the lowest purchasing power. This price will be offered to all governments in developed countries around the world where remdesivir is approved or authorized for use,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said in developing countries, “We have entered into agreements with generic manufacturers to deliver treatment at a substantially lower cost. These alternative solutions are designed to ensure that all countries in the world can provide access to treatment.”

Japan on May 7 has fast-tracked the approval of remdesivir in patients who are severely ill with the new coronavirus. It is the first treatment approved in the country for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The drug, which is administered by injection, was originally developed to treat Ebola. Its side effects include possible liver damage and nausea. - Florenda Corpuz

(Photograph courtesy of © 2020 Gilead Sciences, Inc.)