Gilead’s CEO Daniel O’Day at a meeting of the ghouls in the White House.
Gilead’s CEO Daniel O’Day at a meeting of the ghouls. Pool/Getty Images

The benevolent corporate overlords who decide who lives and dies have generously revealed how much it’ll cost to get a five-day supply of Remdesivir, a drug that shows promise in fighting COVID-19: For patients who have health insurance, Gilead will charge you $3,125 (in the United States; it’s cheaper in other countries). And that’s only if there’s enough of it to go around. There may be a shortage, so act now!

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A handful of attorneys general (including Washington’s Bob Ferguson) issued a letter this week proposing that the government take control of the drug’s patent, allowing other companies to manufacture more supplies and (potentially) bring down costs. They can do that thanks to the 1980 Bayh-Dole act, which lets the government hold onto patent rights if a drug company is price-gouging or failing to address safety issues.

Obviously, Gilead doesn’t like that very much.

The whole situation is like a sampler-platter of the ways that America cosplays as a developed nation despite not having a functioning health care system. Anyone who winds up hospitalized with COVID-19 will be on the hook for thousands of dollars, whether they’re insured or not, and you won’t know exactly how much you owe until after you’ve been treated. The Department of Health and Human Services has money that it COULD use to reimburse treatment of uninsured people, but they haven’t said how much they’ve set aside and nobody knows if there’s enough or if it’s already run out. Great job everyone!

As drug prices go, $3,000-ish for Remdesivir isn’t too unusual (in the United States). And the company’s top ghoul, Daniel O’Day, says that they absolutely definitely have enough of the drug to go around (even though hospitals have been forced to ration their supplies), and that they’re pretty confident the government will pay for your treatment if you can’t afford it. (That’s on top of the more than $70 million that the government already spent on developing the drug.)

The absurdity of the whole situation really hit home for me when I was reading about Remdesivir and came upon this line: “O'Day said the price is ‘well below’ the drug's value, an argument echoed by Wall Street analysts.”

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Jesus. Burn this country to the ground.

Who the fuck cares whether Wall Street analysts think you should be able to survive a deadly plague? Who asked them? Who involved them? Who wants them? STFU with your “well below the drug’s value” talk. You want to know what the drug is worth? People’s lives. It’s not goddamn Beanie Baby.

I could not be less interested in Gilead’s concerns about profit and market value right now. Yes, please, take their patents, all of them, and make public health something that the public owns. We're already paying for it. Sometimes with our lives.