I-Team: Controversial price for drug used to treat COVID-19


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Remdesivir is a drug used to treat severe COVID-19 patients with breathing issues. One of its downsides? It’s expensive.

There are also challenges both locally and nationally in getting a hold of it.

Shaun Singer’s 72-year-old dad was diagnosed with COVID-19 last month and ended up at St. Rose Dominican Hospital. He says his family was informed his dad needed Remdesivir.

“We were told by the nurses that that’s what he was prescribed and that they just didn’t have it in stock,” Singer recalled.

He started researching and found the I-Team’s story from July 21.

Despite the short supply, the Nevada Pharmacy Board’s executive secretary said any patient who needs the drug would receive it.

Singer reached out to the I-Team, and we reached out to the pharmacy board. The board took action, and several vials were transported from another hospital to St. Rose so Singer’s dad would receive it.

“It felt like climbing up a humongous hill, but if there was any kind of shot, I was gonna try to take it,” said Singer.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, since July 6, Nevada has received 371 cases of Remdesivir. This is enough to treat nearly 2,400 patients.

Hospitals in Southern Nevada have seen a surge of COVID-19 patients in the past month. As of Aug. 10, the Nevada Hospital Association reports nearly 1,000 patients hospitalized who are confirmed or suspected of having the virus.

The cost of Remdesivir is also raising eyebrows.

The US government cites drugmaker Gilead Sciences, saying the cost for treatment for patients with government insurance is more than $2,400, while for private insurance patients, it’s more than $3,200.

Just last week, Attorneys General, including Nevada’s Aaron Ford, urged federal health agencies to force Gilead Science to allow other drug companies to produce the drug and to lower the cost.

In a statement, Gilead pointed to its $1 billion investment to expand manufacturing and wrote the Attorneys General misrepresented facts. For the full statement, click here.

“It felt crazy that I had to go do this to get that medicine,” Singer said.

The I-Team reached out to St. Rose, and in an email, a spokesman wrote:

At this time all doctor’s orders for Remdesivir for COVID-19 patients who meet criteria have been filled in our hospitals. Supplies of Remdesivir continue to be allocated to hospitals by the State Board of Pharmacy. We continue to utilize every dose we are allocated.

Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals spokesman

Singer says his father remains in the hospital and is slowly recovering.

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