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OCEANSIDE, Calif. — The California company that makes the COVID-19 drug Remdesivir announced Monday the price for the drug moving forward.

Gilead Sciences, which operates a lab in Oceanside, said a single dose of Remdesivir will cost $390.  A typical course of treatment requires six vials administered over five days in the intensive care unit of a hospital. That means a typical five-day treatment will cost $2,340 per patient.  However that price is only available to the US government, which is handling distribution to hospitals temporarily due to the lack of availability.  For patients covered by private insurance, the price will jump to $520 per vial, which adds up to $3,120 per patient — almost a thousand dollars more.

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day issued a letter outlining the company’s decision. It reads in part, “As with all our actions on Remdesivir, we approached this with the aim of helping as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible and in the most responsible way. This has been our compass point throughout, from collaborating to find rapid answers on safety and efficacy, to scaling up manufacturing and donating our supply of Remdesivir through the end of June. In each case, we recognized the need to do things differently to reflect the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic. now, as we transition beyond the donation period and set a price for Remdesivir, the same principle applies.” 

Remdesivir is approved only for patients who are severely sick.  It is administered intravenously, and it is the only drug that has an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Adminisration to treat coronavirus infections. 

According to experts in this field, the price set by Gilead is comparable with the cost of other ICU drugs. However, compared to the cheap and widely available corticosteroid dexamethasone, which costs a few dollars a day and is showing just as much promise for COVID treatment, Remdesivir is a lot more expensive.  

The Trump administration has stockpiled half a million courses of Remdesivir treatment for distribution to hospitals around the country.