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Local pharmacist, activists outraged by price of COVID-19 drug

Gilead Sciences
Posted at 3:08 PM, Jun 29, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - A drug found to be effective to help some of the sickest COVID-19 patients has come under controversy.

The anti-viral drug Remdesivir has shown to shorten the recovery time by around 30%. However, public interest groups are outraged at how much the drug maker, Gilead, is charging. They say when people are dying, now is not the time to make a profit.

News 3 talked to local pharmacist Earl Sloskey from Newman Family Pharmacy in Chesapeake about the cost and if it will be available here in Hampton Roads.

“[It's] very, very expensive - it’s like $3,000 a dose. Why is it so expensive? And that’s if you have private insurance? A lot of times, insurance companies may not pay for it. Insurance companies are not benevolent individuals. A lot of time, if they think a drug hasn’t been tested or is not safe for their clients or it's too expensive, there’s going to be prior authorizations involved," Sloskey said.

Sloskey says the treatment will likely be given to patients who've been intubated and have been in the ICU for an extended time.

“The treatment is given up to 10 days, given intravenously. The big issue with Remdesivir is the federal government is regulating who and what hospitals are going to get it. It's not going to be an easy thing to get," he said.

Patient advocates argue that Remdesivir was developed using $70 million of taxpayer money, so it should be made widely available and for free given the current pandemic.

Gilead says that even at the high price point, a shorter hospital stay saves money on the overall hospital bill.

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