Coronavirus Drug Available Only for Severe Cases – The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea


The antiviral drug Remdesivir, which has been used with some success to treat coronavirus patients in the U.S., is now available here but only for severe cases.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that the experimental antiviral drug will not be available till later this year for ordinary patients with milder symptoms.

Remedesivir was developed to treat Ebola by America’s Gilead Sciences, which also co-developed the influenza drug Tamiflu.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health announced test results in May showing that Remdesivir decreased the treatment period for coronavirus from 15 to 11 days, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration quickly authorized its use.

Here the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety authorized the import of Remdesivir last month.

The U.S. sales price is extortionate. According to the Financial Times, a 10 mL vial costs US$390. Supposing 90 to 95 percent of coronavirus patients undergo five days of treatment with six vials of the drug, total costs reach $2,340.

But that is only the price applied in limited cases by public health authorities in the U.S., U.K. and emerging economies. Patients subscribing to private-sector insurance policies will have to pay around 30 percent more.

The KCDC said it won’t disclose the details of the imported amount and price of the drug under the agreement with Gilead Sciences to treat patients with immediate need, but it will try its “utmost efforts” to secure additional supplies. Son Young-rae, a senior government epidemiologist, said, “The price will be decided in negotiations and it is too early to forecast it now.”

The U.S. government has bought up almost the entire supplies for use at home.

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