California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry today led a bipartisan multistate coalition in sending a letter request to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging them to use their legal authority under the Bayh-Dole Act to increase the availability of Remdesivir. Remdesivir, a drug manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Gilead), has shown promising results in reducing mortality and hospitalization from COVID-19.
“During this unprecedented crisis, we must use every possible resource and tool available to save the lives of Americans who are falling ill from COVID-19,” said Attorney General Becerra. “With coronavirus cases rising across the nation, our leaders must step up and do what is best for the people. We cannot afford to leave the supply of this critical medication to chance and the whims of the marketplace when it was funded in part by taxpayer dollars. It is time for the Trump Administration to work with our bipartisan coalition of states to help increase the availability and affordability of Remdesivir.”
“Protecting the public during this pandemic does not need to be partisan; and I am grateful that General Becerra and our colleagues from across the political aisles have come together in this cause. Americans ill from COVID-19 should have options in their medical treatment, and today’s petition will hopefully ensure they can access and afford Remdesivir,” said Attorney General Landry. “Despite millions and millions of taxpayer-funded assistance, Gilead has neither established a reasonable price nor met the health and safety needs of the public. So our bipartisan coalition is calling on the federal government to exercise its rights to help increase the supply of Remdesivir and lower its price.”
Remdesivir 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. Yet, by the end of this year, Gilead is expected to produce only two million treatments, or enough Remdesivir to cover about half of the current confirmed COVID-19 patients in the U.S. Before this crisis is over and a vaccine made available, many more Americans may become sick, and their recovery may hinge on the availability and affordability of Remdesivir.
In the letter, the bipartisan coalition 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. 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. 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. 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.
In sending the letter, Attorneys General Becerra and Landry are joined by the attorneys general of 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 Carolina, 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.