Gilead Sciences faces a new dilemma in deciding how much it ought to profit from the only treatment thus far confirmed to help sufferers infected with the novel coronavirus.
The drug producer earned notoriety less than a decade ago when it introduced a therapy that cured hepatitis C at a price of $1,000 per tablet.
Public outrage over the cost of Sovaldi back in 2013 – despite that it was a vast enhancement over existing equally costly therapies – ignited a national debate on honest pricing for drugs that the industry has fought to deflect ever since.
That criticism has subsided significantly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, throughout which drugmakers’ attempts to build vaccines and treatments are considered essential to battling a disease that has infected 3.7 million people and killed more than 258,000 worldwide.
Gilead is now in the spotlight after data confirmed its antiviral drug remdesivir helped cut down hospital stays for COVID-19 sufferers, and the U.S. authorized wide emergency use of the therapy.
Wall Street analysts say remdesivir might generate $750 million or more in global sales next year, and $1.1 billion in 2022, assuming the pandemic continues. But Gilead, and different drug producers, will need to avoid the appearance of taking advantage of a global health crisis to rake in revenue, based on pharmaceutical sector consultants and former regulators.