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U.S. Gains COVID-19 Drug Monopoly for Gilead’s 31,900% Markup

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:02 PM
Simon Chandler
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:02 PM
  • The U.S. government has bought the entire global supply of Covid-19 drug remdesivir for the next three months.
  • Hospitals will be charged $3,200 per treatment for the drug, representing a huge markup of 31,900%.
  • To make matters worse, Gilead received public funding for remdesivir’s development and has a history of tax-dodging.

The U.S. government has bought the entire global stock of remdesivir, the first drug licensed in America to treat Covid-19. The reason? To provide Gilead Sciences with one of its biggest paydays in history.

HHS remdesivir Covid-19 tweet
The Department for Health and Human Services tweets about the deal. ⎮ Source: Twitter 

A five-day course of treatment with the drug costs around $10 to produce. However, the Trump administration has said hospitals — and by extension Americans — will pay $3,200. That’s a 31,900% markup.

Ka-ching!, as they say in Washington D.C. Yet the icing on the cake of this large-scale scam is that the public funded the development of remdesivir. That’s right: taxpayers have already paid once for remdesivir, and they’re going to pay again.

Remdesivir Comes To America’s Rescue

Notoriously, Covid-19 has hit the United States worse than any other nation on the planet. It has counted just over 2.5 million confirmed Covid-19 cases . It has also witnessed more than 125,000 Covid-19 deaths.

U.S. Covid-19 cases topped 2.5 million on June 28. ⎮ Source: Our World In Data 

To top this all off, a second wave of cases appears to be gaining momentum .

So what does the Trump administration do? Order tighter lockdowns? More social distancing? More testing?

No, it buys up the total global supply of remdesivir for the next three months. So rather than solving its own problems, it causes other problems for its friends and allies. Just kidding: America has no friends and allies.

Remdesivir reaction tweet
An American reacts angrily to the news on Twitter. ⎮ Source: Twitter 

Developed by California-based Gilead Sciences, tests have indicated that remdesivir may help people recover more quickly from Covid-19 . As such, the U.S. government is rather happy it’s signed a deal to gobble up all the world’s supply of the drug like the fat-ass third-world country it is.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said :

President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19. To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it.

Fleecing The American Taxpayer

Of course, Azar is being somewhat economical with the truth here. The Trump administration doesn’t really want to ensure that American patients can “get” remdesivir. No, what it really wants is for American patients to pay Gilead a fortune for remdesivir. The “getting” of remdesivir is merely incidental to paying extortionate prices for it.

In its statement, the Department of Health and Human Services said that hospitals will pay $3,200 per treatment course, which equals 6.25 vials on average. It claims this is the Wholesale Acquisition Price.

However, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review published a study in May  which calculated that a 10-day course of remdesivir costs $10 to produce. In fact, a five-day course of remdesivir would cost $5 to produce.

$5. Let that sink in.

Even if we take the upper estimate of $10, this would equal a markup of 31,900%. With $5, it’s 63,900%.

The American public will ultimately pay for this dizzying premium, with hospitals passing costs onto insurers, who will no doubt pass costs onto patients. And let’s not even think about the 27.5 million Americans who remain uninsured . They’re screwed.

Worse still, regulatory filings reveal that Gilead received $70.5 million from taxpayers in developing remdesivir .

Yes, Americans have already paid $70.5 million. In paying $3,200 for 500,000 courses overall, they’ll pay another 1.6 billion. And let’s not forget that Gilead is one of the worst tax-dodgers in the U.S. , having avoided $10 billion in taxes as of 2016 by moving its patents to Ireland , for example.

But as can be predicted, Gilead stock climbed by 3.19% yesterday. It’s climbed by 18.41% in the year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s 4.04% decline.

Gilead stock remdesivir covid-19 chart
Gilead stock (blue) has strongly outperformed the S&P 500 (red). ⎮ Source: Yahoo! 

Ka-ching!, as they say at Gilead HQ.