Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program
Note: Gilead Sciences issued a press release Wednesday morning stating it is “aware of positive data” emerging from a study of its drug remdesivir as a possible treatment in hospital settings for COVID-19. The study is being run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
If remdesivir ultimately proves safe and effective against COVID-19, it will be essential that the product is accessible to all who need it worldwide and reasonably priced to payers, to prevent treatment rationing and to protect health care budgets during the pandemic.
Gilead’s vague assurances are not enough. This is the company that gave us the $1,000 pill. Remdesivir has benefited at every stage from taxpayer funding, totaling a minimum of $60 million. The trial Gilead touted today is itself government-run. Gilead must commit to licensing the right to manufacture remdesivir to all qualified producers in exchange for a modest royalty. The U.S. government should prepare to license Gilead’s patents, and Congress should enact reasonable pricing legislation as part of the next stimulus.