Generic Remdesivir: While Americans Have To Pay Up To US$3120 For Gilead’s Remdesivir, Price War In India Has Led Prices Dropping To Below US$50!
: The Trump administration last week proudly announced that it had secured 500,000 doses of Gilead’s remdesivir at prices that were set by Gilead at between US$2,340 to US$3,120
Of course no one knows who in the Trump administration or which family member is going to gain from this transaction, but for sure Americans are going to have to fork out to pay for this when they get seriously ill with COVID-19 one way or another.
Meanwhile ironically in India, a price war has started among generic suppliers of the drug and prices are even expected to drop even more as the more companies start ramping out supplies. An updated report says that the production price per dose is actually less than US$7 dollars (Thailand Medical News made a mistake of reporting it as US$22 in an earlier article). The industry is speculating that retail prices could drop as much as to US$ 20 in the next few months.
Further igniting drug pricing battle among pharmaceutical majors, Drug major, Cipla Ltd., has priced antiviral drug Remdesivir at under Rs 5000 right after Hetero Healthcare announced its price for the potential COVID-19 drug. This pricing war is likely to bloat, with manufacturers trying to tap the demand for the generic version of the drug during the pandemic at an affordable price range. (Note that one US dollar is about 74.52 Indian Rupees)
Last week, Hetero stated that the company is all set to deliver 20,000 vials of its antiviral drug Covifor (remdesivir) across the country for the treatment of COVID-19, at a maximum retail price of Rs 5,400 per 100mg vial.
Cipla came up with a proposal, wherein, of pricing its generic version of antiviral drug remdesivir at less than 5,000 rupees ($66). Each patient will need six vials for the course of treatment.
The drug has been touted as a potential treatment for COVID-19 by Gilead Sciences, who is the patent holder of the drug. Gilead Sciences had applied to the Indian Drug Regulatory Agency, CDSCO, for import and marketing of Remdesivir on May 29. After due deliberations, permission under emergency use authorization was granted by DCGI on June 1 in the interest of patient safety and obtaining further data.
Cipla and Hetero healthcare also sought permission to manufacture and sell remdesivir in India after entering into a non-exclusive licensing agreement with US pharma giant Gilead Sciences. The drugmakers also sought a clinical trial waiver for remdesivir so that the medicine can be made available for the patients faster.
Cipla and Hetero Healthcare both secured the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) nod to manufacture and market antiviral drug remdesivir for "restricted emergency use" on hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
The drug Remdesivir, intravenously administered in hospitals, is the first treatment to show improvement in COVID-19 trials. It has been approv
ed for emergency use in severely-ill patients in the United States, India and South Korea, and has received full approval in Japan.
Speaking on the drug's pricing, a spokesperson for Cipla told Thailand Medical News,"In line with our overall philosophy of driving access and affordability, the drug will be priced at less than Rs 5,000 per vial for 100 mg injection among the lowest pricing for remdesivir globally.”
Cipla will be selling it under the brand Cipremi. Hetero's brand is Covifor.
Industry sources revealed that Cipla may price the drug around Rs 3,700 per dose.
Dr M Srinivasa Reddy, MD, Hetero Healthcare, told the Thailand Medical News, "Through Covifor, we hope to reduce the treatment time of a patient in a hospital, thereby reducing the increasing pressure on the medical infrastructure, overburdened currently due to accelerating Covid-19 infection rates. We are working closely with the government and the medical community to make Covifor quickly accessible to both public and private health care settings across the country."
An Indian senior government official mentioned that it is in wait-and-watch mode and has not decided to take any suo motu action on the pricing of the drug. Cipla had signed an agreement to contract the manufacture of remdesivir with BDR Pharmaceuticals International recently. BDR had transferred the formulation technology and other methods of development to Sovereign Pharma.
As more Indian drugmakers, including Jubilant Pharma, Mylan, Cadila Healthcare, and Dr Reddy's Laboratories, are in line to launch this drug soon, the prices may see further erosion.
It is expected that by end of August, at least 12 million doses of remdesivir will be available in India with a production capacity of 8 million doses per month.
It must be started that there are no real studies to show the efficacy of remdesivir against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus except that it shortens hospitalization stays. The drug was approved by the Trump administration and to date do not have detailed safety studies on the drug and its long term possible health implications.
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