Remdesivir helps coronavirus patients — but at what cost?

But Gilead, which suffered through a spate of bad publicity in 2015 for charging $84,000 for a hepatitis C drug, isn’t just under fire over the potential price of its coronavirus treatment. It’s under pressure from Wall Street investors to recoup the $1 billion investment in remdesivir, which has been proven to accelerate recovery from the coronavirus. How Gilead navigates financial pressures from investors and political pressures from Washington may very well determine the mass production and availability of one of the most promising coronavirus drugs on the market.

“An unaffordable drug is completely ineffective,” Democratic Reps. Lloyd Doggett (Texas) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar last week, raising questions about remdesivir.

It’s not clear exactly how much the drug will cost. For context, one non-profit that evaluates drug costs says it costs about $9.32 to manufacture a 10-day course of remdesivir treatment for one patient. Calculating the cost of development and trials, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review says Gilead could charge as little as $390 for the drug. But Wall Street analysts are on an entirely different page, suggesting a price between $5,000 to $10,000, leading to billions in profits.