STENEHJEM JOINS BIPARTISAN COALITION URGING FEDERAL ACTION REGARDING COVID-19 TREATMENT DRUG

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August 5, 2020


Media Contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213 

BISMARCK, ND - Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joined a bipartisan coalition of thirty-four states, led by California Attorney General Becerra and Louisiana Attorney General Landry, in sending a letter to the US Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration, urging those agencies to use their legal authority to increase the availability of Remdesivir.

Remdesivir, a drug manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc., has shown promising results in reducing mortality and hospitalization from COVID-19. Remdesivir is an FDA fast-tracked antiviral drug that was produced with the benefit of millions of dollars of federal funding and the time and expertise of CDC and military scientists. Despite substantial federal funding, Gilead has not been able to assure authorities that there will be a sufficient supply of Remdesivir to alleviate the health needs of the country amid the pandemic. Although the manufacturing cost is between $1 and $5, Gilead has set the price of the drug at an outrageous and unconscionable $3,200 per treatment course.

As of August 3, 2020, more than 4.64 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and 154,000 have died. Yet, by the end of this year, Gilead is expected to produce only two million treatments, or enough Remdesivir to cover about half of the current confirmed COVID-19 patients in the U.S. Before this crisis is over and a vaccine made available, many more Americans may become sick, and their recovery may hinge on the availability and affordability of Remdesivir.

In the letter, the bipartisan coalition urges the federal government to exercise its rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, which provides authority to the NIH and FDA to license Remdesivir to third party manufacturers to scale up production and distribution and ensure the drug is made available to all those in need and at a reasonable price. If these agencies are unwilling to exercise this authority, the coalition asks that the agencies assign this authority to the states. The states stand ready to ensure that drug manufacturers are licensed to meet market demand during this public health crisis.

The coalition includes: California, Louisiana, Alaska, American Samoa, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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