Gilead’s remdesivir faces pricing and generic challenges, says GlobalData

There are concerns over the pricing of remdesivir and how to make it available in low-income and lower-middle income countries, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. Historically, intravenously (IV) administered drugs come with a large price tag, but pharmaceutical companies are facing pressure to forego profits in exchange for reputation gains and goodwill. There will be considerable pressure to make the drug available at an affordable price.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) previously estimated a price of $4,460 per course of treatment based on the disease burden. At this estimated price, remdesivir could be a $4–5bn drug for Gilead, considering the company’s plan to have 500,000 treatment courses by October and a million by the end of the 2020.

Johanna Swanson, Product Manager at GlobalData, comments: “It is uncertain if Gilead will follow the ICER recommendation as drug makers and the ICER are often at odds with each other, and Gilead is under no obligation to follow these guidelines.

Currently, Gilead is donating remdesivir to the US Government and the company plans to continue donating the drug until its current supply chain is depleted – although no plans for donations outside the US have been announced.

Meanwhile, following the launch of Beximco Pharmaceuticals’ generic version of remdesivir, it remains to be seen if this generic has the same effectiveness and safety or if it will be exported to countries with no patent barriers. On May 12, 2020, Gilead signed non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with five generic pharmaceutical manufacturers based in India and Pakistan to further expand supply of remdesivir.

“Gilead employed a similar strategy for marketing several of its hepatitis C antivirals and will help ensure that economically challenged countries have adequate access to the drug. Moreover, allowing additional manufacturers to make remdesivir will alleviate potential supply shortages.”

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