On April 29, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that in a placebo-controlled trial of patients with advanced COVID-19 disease, patients receiving the experimental drug remdesivir (Gilead Sciences, Inc.) recovered in a median of 11 days after beginning treatment, a 31 percent improvement over patients in the placebo arm, who recovered in 15 days (p <0.001). The trial also “suggested” a survival benefit, with a mortality rate of 8.0 percent for patients receiving remdesivir, and 11.6 percent for those receiving placebo (p = 0.059).
Importantly, these results are interim and have yet to undergo peer review. But if they withstand scrutiny, what might be a “reasonable” or “fair” price for such a therapy? The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), the private, nonprofit organization that has become a kind of national arbiter for appropriate pricing for pharmaceuticals in the United States, has weighed in, presenting on May 1 two approaches for pricing remdesivir.
In this post, we discuss some of the choices ICER made in its analysis and provide our own thoughts about ways that the analysis might be strengthened.