WASHINGTON (May 12, 2020) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today demanded that remdesivir, the newly approved drug for treating COVID-19, be priced at no more than one U.S. dollar per dose. AHF further demanded that Gilead Sciences also disclose all its public research and development costs and all public investments in connection with the development of remdesivir.
AHF’s dollar per dose demand is based on a University of Liverpool research study, “Minimum costs to manufacture new treatments for COVID-19”that allows for recovery of the cost of manufacturing plus a reasonable profit.
On May 1st,the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved emergency use authorization of remdesivir, which has shown to reduce recovery time for people infected with COVID-19.
“The U.S. taxpayer paid for the research for this drug. Medicaid and Medicare are very likely going to pay for the prescriptions for this drug in the United States,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “This massive expenditure of public resources requires full disclosure of how extensive the taxpayer is subsidizing drug companies.”
“We further demand that Gilead not enforce or claim any exclusive rights on patents for remdesivir, that it make available to the public all data, samples and information for the generic production of remdesivir, and that it improve transparency to show its manufacturing capacity and existing supply to allow for proper governance of the allocation of the drug according to medical needs,” added Weinstein. “Given Gilead’s abysmal record of making lifesaving treatments available for HIV and Hepatitis C, also financed at taxpayer expense, this pandemic profiteering enterprise can’t be trusted to look out for the public’s interest.”
In a related article published last week titled “The U.S. government contributed research to a Gilead remdesivir patent — but didn’t get credit,” STAT News reporter Ed Silverman explored the role the federal government played in discovering remdesivir and its use in treating coronaviruses “…specifically …in fighting Ebola and other coronaviruses.” While government scientists and “high-risk security labs run by the federal government” were involved in the research, Gilead alone sought a U.S. patent for a using the compound for any number of coronavirus infections.
The STAT article pointed out that: “… while it remains unclear the extent to which federal funds contributed to the R&D, the patent is of particular interest because it is tangible evidence that government work yielded something of potential financial value to the company. Yet government employees are not listed as inventors, which one expert suggested should be corrected, especially in an era when federally financed research might be leveraged to collect royalties or, arguably, lower the price of medicines.”