While hospitals in South Florida are now running out of remdesivir, other states have surplus doses. This may be the case of inequity in the distribution of the only drug authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus.
As COVID-19 cases surge to record high numbers in Florida over the weekend, Dr. Eliot Godofsky no longer has a remdesivir for his patients in South Florida. In contrast, Dr. Cameron Wolfe who is an infectious disease expert from Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina has extra doses he currently does not need as the number of coronavirus cases in the hospital continues to decline.
Godofsky feels frustrated with the situation as he cannot give his patients remdesivir to help them recover faster. "Patients suffer and you just feel terrible," he said.
Similarly, Texas' supply of remdesivir is also not enough as COVID-19 patients surge to more than 700 this month from only 200 in May. Unfortunately, it only has doses enough for 200 patients. This is after some hospitals have limited administering of the drug for only patients who were on ventilators.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the US Department of Health and Human Services told CNN on Friday, July 10, the department is now focusing on states with recent spikes in COVID-19 cases. These include Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas where previous allocations are far less than the number of hospitalized patients.
The spokesperson also said that the department would ensure to distribute remdesivir across the United States efficiently and equitably.
Currently, the agency allots drugs for a certain state depending on the percentage it takes from the total number of cases in the country. However, the spokesperson told STAT in an email that the actual case might change once the drugs are shipped out.
Hospitals would need to purchase remdesivir starting July 13
On July 8, News-Press reported that state health departments are no longer getting remdesivir. The Florida Hospital Associated said the shortage of supply led to temporary delays in hospitals acquiring the drug.
FHA interim president Crystal Stickle said in a statement that it is their top priority to ensure access to remdesivir, which has proven to speed up recovery of COVID-19 patients.
After getting an emergency authorization from the FDA in May, drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences donated the initial supply of remdesivir for hospitalized Covid-19 patients. However, starting on July 13, hospitals would need to purchase the drug to directly receive it.
Last month, the NPR reported that patients with private insurance could purchase each vial for $520. Each patient would receive 2 doses for five days, so they will be billed $3,120 for the whole treatment. It is still unsure how much patients without insurance would pay for the treatment.
Meanwhile, other developed countries can get it for a lower price of $390 per vial or $2,340 for the five-day course.