Remdesivir costs $4400 per person - Covid 19: European study finds no clinical benefit

Micky Turner made this Official Information request to Pharmaceutical Management Agency

The request was successful.

From: Micky Turner

Dear Pharmaceutical Management Agency,

Remdesivir costs around $4400 to treat one person.

Can you please forward all information on Pharmac's decision to fund Remdesivir for the treatment of Covid 19?

Gilead’s remdesivir — or Veklury, as it’s marketed in the US — raked in around $2.8 billion last year as the only FDA-approved antiviral to treat Covid-19. But new data from a European study suggest the drug, which has been given to about half of hospitalized Covid patients in the country, has no actual benefit.

On 16 September 2021 Pharmac announced it had secured more supply of the drug:

A number of studies have found no benefit:

"No clinical benefit was observed from the use of remdesivir in patients who were admitted to hospital for COVID-19, were symptomatic for more than 7 days, and required oxygen support."

"‘Authors' conclusions: remdesivir probably has little or no effect on all‐cause mortality at up to 28 days in hospitalised adults with SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. We are uncertain about the effects of remdesivir on clinical improvement and worsening. There were insufficient data available to examine the effect of Remdesivir on mortality across subgroups defined by respiratory support at baseline.’ "

See also -

Yours faithfully,

Micky Turner

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From: Micky Turner

Note: the manufacturer has conducted it's own study and found it to be highly effective (surprise, surprise)

Some studies have also linked the drug to kidney disease and other severe side effects:

The drug is touted by the father of Covid 19 himself 'Anthony Fauci' and has recently been praised by our own Ashley Bloomfield.

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From: Web Enquiry
Pharmaceutical Management Agency

Mōrena Micky


Thank you for your emails.


Your request has been received and logged. Our reference number for your
request is 2021-22-036.


As required under the Official Information Act 1982, we will respond to
your request within 20 working days. You should receive a response on or
before 21 October 2021.


If a large amount of information has been requested, we may need to extend
this date (this is provided for in section 15A of the Act). We will advise
you if such an extension is necessary.


Please feel free to contact us if you require any further assistance.


Ngā mihi



Melody Willis ([1]she/her) | Government Services Advisor

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From: Web Enquiry
Pharmaceutical Management Agency

Attachment 2021 22 036 2021 10 20 OIA response letter Information on Pharmac s decision to fund remdesivir for the treatment of Covid 19.pdf
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Attachment 2021 22 036 OIA request documents Remdesivir decision papers.pdf
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Kia ora Micky


Please find attached a response to your request for information about


Ngā mihi



Melody Willis ([1]she/her) | Government Services Advisor

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From: Micky Turner

Hi Melody,

Thanks for providing the information!

Here is a summary of the details:

Remdesivir is a failed Ebola drug. It was designed to treat Ebola, but was proven ineffective.

Pharmac have relied on the manufacturers own trial to assess the efficacy of the drug in treating Covid 19. Manufacturers trials are known to be at high risk of bias.

Two recent independent trials have shown Remdesivir has no effect on Covid 19.

Remdesivir is not endorsed by the World Health Organization as a treatment for Covid 19.

Remdesivir costs $586 per vial. It takes 6-12 vials to treat one person.
The total cost per person is $3516 - $7032.

Remdesivir does not have Medsafe approval in New Zealand. The documents indicate Remdesivir does not even have provisional emergency consent and in fact would not be able to gain provisional consent (likely due to the lack of trial evidence) - therefore Medsafe advised it should be purchased under section 29 of the Medicines Act.

The documentation does not state which medical practitioner requested Remdesivir under section 29 of the Medicines Act. Section 29 offers a work around for supplying medicine for a particular patient - but is unclear about purchasing in bulk for potential patients.

In September 2020 Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee members considered that the quality of the available evidence for the use of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 appeared to be low and did not consider they were well placed to provide the required advice to Pharmac as it appeared the decision to fund remdesivir had already been made.

In September 2020 the Critical Care Advisory Group communicated via email regarding the priority of different groups for access to remdesivir. The members noted the concerns about the quality of the evidence available for the effectiveness of remdesivir;

A document dated September 2021 states that Pharmac extended the current agreement dated 31 August 2020 between Pharmac and Gilead Sciences to include an additional vials of Remdesivir.

Cheers - Micky Turner

Medicines Act 1981
29 Exemption for medicine required by medical practitioner
(1) Neither section 20 nor section 24 shall prevent—
(a) the supply by any person to any medical practitioner, on the medical practitioner’s request, of any medicine required by that medical practitioner for the treatment of a particular patient currently under that medical practitioner’s care; or
(b) the administration by any medical practitioner of any such medicine to any such patient.

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Virginia Crawford left an annotation ()

According to the reply to a recent OIA request, 25 people were treated with Remdesivir in Auckland during the recent outbreak (there may be more since then and will no doubt this will continue to be prescribed in the coming weeks).

Considering the lack of approval by the WHO and the huge expense of this drug, it would seem inappropriate (to say the least) to continue with this treatment.

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