Remdesivir, the first drug shown to be effective against the coronavirus, will be distributed under an unusual agreement with the federal government that establishes nonnegotiable prices and prioritizes American patients, health officials announced on Monday.
The arrangement may serve as a template for distribution of new treatments and vaccines as the pandemic swells, said Ernst Berndt, a retired health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.
Remdesivir will be sold for $520 per vial, or $3,120 per treatment course, to hospitals for treatment of patients with private insurance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and Gilead Sciences, the drug’s manufacturer.
The price will be set at $390 per vial, or $2,340 per treatment course, for patients on government-sponsored insurance and for those in other countries with national health care systems.
The drug will be sold only in the United States through September, meaning American patients will receive almost the entirety of Gilead’s output, more than 500,000 treatment courses.
H.H.S. and state health departments have been allocating the drug to hospitals nationwide based on need. After September, they will no longer have a role in determining where the drug is sent.
“This is a U.S.-first policy,” said Rena Conti, a health care economist at Boston University. “Access is guaranteed to the U.S., but worldwide demand could potentially outstrip supplies.”
“I am unaware of any other policy except perhaps in bioterrorism drugs where there might be country-specific supplies,”