Big Pharma giant Gilead last year dropped a sweet $31 million on its new CEO Daniel O’Day, along with marching orders to find a new path to greater profits. O’Day didn’t have to look far. The pandemic has given Gilead a new application — reducing Covid-19 recovery time — for its already developed antiviral drug remdesivir.
Gilead will be charging up to $3,120 for a five-day treatment, a price state attorneys general are calling “unconscionable” since the drug costs under $12 to manufacture. Critics are also charging that Gilead holds a patent on another antiviral that could serve as a less expensive substitute.
Why isn’t Gilead pushing that alternative? The drug’s patent turns out to expire five years sooner than the patent on remdesivir. So Gilead stands to make oodles less off it. O’Day, meanwhile, is dismissing all the critical static. All Covid patients, he insists ”will have access.” Yes, but only because tax dollars will be paying for 500,000 treatment courses of remdesivir through September, quite enough to guarantee O’Day and Gilead still another year of windfalls, (Inequality.org 22 Aug 2020)
Comment: I read this, by coincidence, within minutes of the President declaring that the government was delighted to announce that remdesivir will shortly be freely available throughout the country. Freely?