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Attorney General Josh Stein Urges Federal Government to Increase Access and Affordability of COVID-19 Drug

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase the availability of remdesivir, which has shown promising results in reducing COVID-19 mortality and hospitalization. Access to remdesivir has the potential to help millions of Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Until a vaccine is available, remdesivir may be the only option to help save millions of people who have contracted coronavirus,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “This drug was created using federal funds and federal expertise, and it should be available to every American. I urge the federal government to make sure anyone who needs this treatment can get it at a reasonable cost – anything less is a violation of our responsibility to the people we serve.”

Remdesivir, which is manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Gilead), is an FDA fast-tracked antiviral drug that was produced with the benefit of millions of dollars of federal funding and the time and expertise of CDC and military scientists. Despite the substantial federal funding provided to its manufacturer, Gilead has been unable to assure a supply of remdesivir sufficient to alleviate the health and safety needs of the country amid the pandemic.

As of August 3, 2020, more than 4.64 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and 154,000 have died. In North Carolina, more than 126,532 North Carolinians have contracted COVID-19 and 1,982 have died. Yet, by the end of this year, Gilead is expected to produce only two million treatments – enough to cover only about half of the current confirmed COVID-19 patients in the U.S.

Despite a manufacturing cost of between $1 and $5, Gilead has set the price of the drug at an outrageous and unconscionable $3,200 per treatment course. In the letter, the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general urges the federal government to exercise its rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, which allows the NIH and FDA to ensure Americans can afford and have reasonable access to a sufficient supply of remdesivir during this pandemic. The NIH and FDA have 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. 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.

Attorney General Stein is joined in sending today’s letter by the Attorneys General of California, Louisiana, Alaska, American Samoa, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the letter is available here.

More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect North Carolinians during the COVID-19 pandemic:

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