AG Schmidt urges federal action to increase access to remdesivir

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 4:22 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging federal agencies to take action to increase access and affordability for remdesivir.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he is urging federal agencies to utilize their special legal authority to increase the availability of remdesivir, a drug that shows results in reducing hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19.

Schmidt says he is part of a bipartisan coalition of 33 other state territory attorneys general that requested the U.S. Departmetn of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration use their authority under a federal statute to prevent manufacturing bottlenecks and ensure affordability for the drug as well as having reasonable access to sufficient supply.

According to Schmidt, the statute was enacted in 1980 through legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Bob Dole.

Schmidt says remdesivir, which is manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc., is an FDA fast-tracked antiviral drug produced with millions of dollars of federal funding and the work of the Centers for Disease Control and military scientists. He says despite substantial federal funding provided to Gilead, it has been unable to assure a supply of the drug sufficient to alleviate the health and safety needs of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are in unsettled times, and Americans must be assured of meaningful access to remedies that can save lives,” Schmidt said.

According to the Attorney General, despite a manufacturing cost of between $1 and $5, Gilead has set a price of $3,200 per treatment course and has been unable to provide assurances it can produce enough of the drug to meet current demands.

Schmidt says in the letter, the attorneys general urged the federal government to exercise its rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, allowing the NIH and FDA to ensure Americans can afford and have reasonable access to a sufficient supply of remdesivir during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AG says one provision of the statute allows the NIH and FDA to license remdesivir to third-party manufacturers to scale up production and distribution ensuring the drug is made available to all those in need at a reasonable price.

According to Schmidt, the Bayh-Dole Act became law in 1980 and was designed to improve research and development at universities and other entities. He says it is named after Bobo Dole, a Kansas Republican Senator, and Birch Bayh, and Indiana Democratic Senator. He says the intent was to encourage development through federal funding, and the granting of patents and licenses related to intellectual property.

A copy of the letter sent by Schmidt can be found here.

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