Schakowsky Blasts Gilead’s Remdesivir Pricing, Urges Congress to Pass MMAPPP Act to Prevent Pandemic Profiteering

June 29, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, slammed Gilead Sciences’ decision to price the COVID-19 drug remdesivir at $520 per dose for private pay and $390 per dose for the U.S. government. Remdesivir was shown in clinical trials to reduce the length of hospitalization in patients with severe COVID-19, but did not reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients. Independent analyses suggest Gilead can produce the drug for as little as $0.93 per dose and make a profit by charging just $1 per dose:

“As expected, Gilead is taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. The price they have set for remdesivr is more than 400 times higher than what they need to turn a profit. They will make $1.3 billion this year alone by charging private payers $3,120 for five days of treatment—even though the company gave up on the drug until U.S. taxpayers infused at least $70 million into its development.

“Though Secretary Azar sued Gilead last year for price gouging their HIV treatment, it’s been clear all along that he and the rest of the Trump Administration have no plans to stop pandemic profiteering from Gilead or any other pharmaceutical manufacturer. In February, after I asked Secretary Azar three times at a public hearing if he would stop drug companies from setting sky-high prices on COVID-19 drugs, he responded by saying ‘we can't control that price because we need the private sector to invest.

“Congress must pass my MMAPPP Act, H.R. 7296, to ensure that the taxpayers who have developed remdesivir and all other COVID-19 drugs and vaccines can access them at an affordable price.”

Last week, Representatives Schakowsky, Rooney, Doggett, DeLauro, and DeFazio introduced the Make Medications Affordable by Preventing Pandemic Pricegouging Act (MMAPPP) Act of 2020 (H.R. 7296), bipartisan legislation to protect patients from being price-gouged on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines developed with taxpayer dollars.

The American public has invested substantial resources into the development of remdesivir, including at least $70 million in funding. Gilead received help from three government agencies⁠—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—to develop and test the drug to combat the Ebola epidemic in 2015. While remdesivir did not prove effective against Ebola, the Department of Defense (DOD) spent at least $34 million to continue developing the drug, and the NIH has invested more than $36 million to date in developing and testing remdesivir for treating COVID-19.

According to a new report by Patients For Affordable Drugs, pharmaceutical companies have raised the list prices of more than 200 drugs by an average of nearly 25% since the first case of novel coronavirus was reported in the United States. 75% of the increases were for drugs directly linked to COVID-19 treatment, like remdesivir, or for conditions that place people at higher risk of the virus.