The Department of Health and Human Services has secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug remdesivir to be purchased directly by hospitals through a new agreement with Gilead Sciences.
The agreement goes through September. The drug will be sent directly to hospitals based on state health department allocation data. Previously, the drug was sent to health departments to be delivered to hospitals, but the new protocol is aimed at streamlining the process, according to HHS.
Hospitals will receive the product at a price no higher than the wholesale acquisition price of approximately $3,200 per treatment course.
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Shipments of remdesivir will occur every two weeks, according to the HHS. The shipments will be based upon hospitalization and inpatient data.
The final shipment of Gilead's roughly 120,000 donated treatment courses goes out today. HHS hopes to begin allocating the new product in two weeks, following an assessment of hospital and patient data.
HHS secured 100% of Gilead's projected production for July (94,200 treatment courses), 90% of production in August (174,900 treatment courses), and 90% of production in September (232,800 treatment courses), in addition to an allocation for clinical trials. A treatment course of remdesivir is, on average, 6.25 vials.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Treatments for the COVID-19 have been a scarce resource for hospitals during the pandemic. By securing remdesivir to be allocated to American hospitals, the HHS hopes to make treatment accessible to those who need it most.
"The federal government put a lot of effort maintaining, with both the donated product and the imminently commercial product, that it be available equally and fairly to all patients in American hospitals all over the country regardless of which hospital they were admitted to," HHS said.
THE LARGER TREND
In May, Gilead donated remdesivir to the U.S. to be distributed to hospitals hardest hit by the pandemic.
Data from the National Institutes of Health suggest that the drug is associated with faster recovery, although the data is not sufficient to determine if the drug is associated with lower mortality.
Because therapeutics are being developed to treat COVID-19 at such a high volume, HHS doesn't yet have a plan for when this agreement expires after September. The department said it will wait to see what treatments are available in October and act accordingly.
ON THE RECORD
"President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it. The Trump Administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for COVID-19 and secure access to these options for the American people."
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