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AG Nessel joins bipartisan effort to increase access and affordability to COVID-19 drug Remdesivir

(AP)
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 11:04 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a bipartisan coalition in sending a letter request to the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging them to increase the availability of the prescription drug, Remdesivir, according to a press release from the AG’s office. 

Remdesivir, a drug manufactured by Gilead Sciences Inc., has shown some positive results in reducing mortality and hospitalization from COVID-19. 

Remdesivir is an FDA fast-tracked antiviral drug that was produced with millions in federal funding. The substantial federal funding provided to its manufacturer, Gilead, however, has been unable to assure a supply of Remdesivir sufficient to alleviate the health and safety needs of the country amid the pandemic, the press release said. 

“Mounting scientific data is showing that Remdesivir can benefit those battling COVID-19, and the federal government should want to do everything in its power to ensure it is accessible to all who need it,” said Nessel. “My colleagues and I are urging these agencies to use their legal authority to guarantee widespread access to this prescription drug, and make certain that it is not only available to those with deep pockets or political connections, but everyone whose health is strained by this pandemic. This nation and the entire world is in the middle of a crisis and if the federal government isn’t going to exercise its authority to address the current and unconscionable $3,200 price tag Gilead has set per treatment course, then we ask them to assign such authority to the states.” 

As of Aug. 3, 2020, more than 4.64 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and 154,000 have died. Gilead is expected to produce only two million doses of Remdesivir which only cover about half of the current confirmed COVID-19 patients in the U.S, the press release said. “Before this crisis is over and a vaccine is made available, many more Americans may become sick, and their recovery may hinge on the availability and affordability of Remdesivir,” Nessel said in the press release. 

In Tuesday’s letter, the bipartisan coalition urged the federal government to exercise its rights to ensure Americans can afford and have reasonable access to a sufficient supply of Remdesivir during the pandemic. Despite a manufacturing cost of between $1 and $5, Gilead has set the price of the drug at $3,200 per treatment course.

Under the Bayh-Dole Act, the NIH and FDA has the authority to license Remdesivir to third-party manufacturers to scale up production and distribution and ensure the drug is made available to all those in need at a reasonable price, the press release said. If these agencies are unwilling to exercise this authority, the states request that the agencies assign this authority for the states to use. The bipartisan coalition stands ready to ensure that drug manufacturers are licensed to meet market demand during this public health crisis, according to AG Nessel.

AG Nessel joins the attorneys general of Alaska, American Samoa, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington in sending this letter.  

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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