Local News

Fayetteville man beats COVID-19 with Remdesivir; drug's price concerns others

Posted June 30, 2020 6:56 p.m. EDT
Updated June 30, 2020 7:46 p.m. EDT

Harold Lassiter tested positive for COVID-19 back in May.

The Fayetteville resident qualified for Remdesivir and was one of the first in the state to take the drug.

“Through God's grace, we took a leap of faith and we took the drug and that’s all I can say," Lassister said. "Day 5, I felt great and was ready to go home.”

Remdesivir will cost the United States government $390 per vial. Most patients receiving a 5-day treatment course will use six vials of Remdesivir, which adds up to $2,340 per patient. The price for private insurance companies will be $520 per vial, adding up to $3,120.

“They clearly could have set this drug prices higher, there’s no other drug like it in the market so they kind of have a monopoly,” said Dr. Ralph Baric, a professor with the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Daniel O’Day, Chairman & CEO of Gilead Sciences, said in an open letter that Remdesivir could save patients $12,000 in hospital expenses. Under normal circumstances, he said he would price medicine according to the value it provides.

“They tried to do a good job of balancing social responsibility and profitability and that’s almost impossible to find,” Baric said.

Others are saying the price of the drug should have been lower because it was developed using taxpayer funding. The company maintains that it priced Remdesiver below its actual value to ensure access.

“Do I think Remdesivir saved my life?" Lassiter said. "I’m a man of faith so the good Lord has more work for me. That’s why I’m here.

"The drug helped me, but do I think the drug is priced too low? I agree, probably so.”

Baric said as additional drugs come into the market, the price of Remdesivir could potentially drop.

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