Remdesivir Takes Top Spot for US Hospital Spending: Report

By Deena Beasley

February 02, 2022

(Reuters) - Gilead Sciences Inc's COVID-19 drug remdesivir last year overtook AbbVie Inc's 20-year-old arthritis drug Humira as the medicine that U.S. hospitals spent the most on, according to Vizient Inc, a purchasing group used by about half the nation's hospitals.

Remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral approved early in the pandemic for hospitalized COVID patients and authorized last month for high-risk outpatients, could retain the top spot through mid-2023, according to Vizient's projections.

The group purchasing organization said Gilead's drug, sold as Veklury, made up 3.42% of total member spending on pharmaceuticals during October 2020 to September 2021.

"Unfortunately, it wasn't because the price of Humira declined. It is because we had to spend this much more money on remdesivir," said Steven Lucio, senior principal at Vizient.

The report ranks drugs by relative expenditure, but does not detail how much money was spent or is expected to be spent.

Veklury's average price is $2,080 for non-hospitalized patients, and $3,120 for hospitalized patients.

Gilead, which will report quarterly results on Tuesday, posted $4.2 billion in global Veklury sales in the first nine months of 2021. Wall Street expects fourth-quarter sales of $864 million, as compiled by Refinitiv.

Another drug used for patients hospitalized with severe COVID, Roche Holding's anti-inflammatory Actemra, moved into the No. 10 spot for U.S. hospital spending, according to Vizient.

The top-10 drugs by spending are all are injectables.

Cancer continues to be the highest-cost therapeutic area, accounting for 23% of hospital drug spending, the report said.

Vizient expects prices for hospital drugs to increase by a historically modest 3.09% from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 as lower-cost "biosimilar" versions of biotech drugs continue to enter the market.

Humira, launched in 2002, had held the top spot on Vizient's spending list since 2012 and is not expected to face biosimilar rivals until 2023.

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