Although the vaccine remains the most valuable weapon in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, there is also a great need for drugs to treat patients who become infected. The pills, as the first experimental results show, are extremely promising: this is how much a full course costs compared to the prices of vaccines and therapies based on monoclonal antibodies.
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On October 1st, the American pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co has communicated the preliminary data on the safety and oneffectiveness of her anti Covid pill (molnupiravir), demonstrating that it is an extremely valid drug capable of reducing the risk of about 50 percent hospitalization O death in patients infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The results, welcomed with great favor by Anthony Fauci – immunologist in charge of the task perhaps for the White House health emergency – and by the international scientific community, if confirmed will lead to a rapid approval for emergency use and will make the molnupiravir a new weapon to deliver the “coup de grace” to pandemic, in synergy with the vaccination campaign. Near the finish line there are also the pills AT-527 by Atea Pharmaceuticals and Roche e PF-07321332 Pfizer, which all have the ability to inhibit viral replication; it is no coincidence that they are designed both for the Covid patients with the early stage of infection (with a positivity just found since tampone oro-rinofaringeo), both for those who have been exposed to the virus, such as members of a family in which there is one or more infected or perhaps the classmates of a positive student. In short, they will be able to protect all the infected by reducing the risk of an unfortunate evolution of the COVID-19. But how much does the anti Covid treatment based on pills cost? And what is the cost of the vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, which at this moment are representing the first line in the fight against the pandemic?
As for the anti Covid pills, at the moment it is still about experimental treatments in view of approval, therefore there are still no specific agreements between the pharmaceutical companies who are testing them and the health authorities. The US government, however, is paying $ 700 (602 Euro at current exchange rates) for a full course of molnupiravir, developed by scientists at Merck & Co in collaboration with colleagues from the biotech company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Standard therapy is not unlike that antivirals based on oseltamivir against theinfluenza; Covid patients must in fact take four pills twice a day for five days. In total, it is therefore 40 pills, the price of which is approximately 15 Euros each, considering the overall cost of the treatment. As indicated, these are currently the costs of the experimental therapy, so when molnupiravir and related pills are licensed there are likely to be more advantageous deals. What is certain is that the US administration does not intend to make individual citizens pay for the pills, so they will be totally paid for by the US health system, exactly like vaccines. Put simply, Americans won’t pay anything for therapy. It is almost obvious that a similar decision will be taken by the national health authorities of the various European countries – including theItalian Medicines Agency (AIFA) when the approval by the EMA arrives.
Returning to the question of costs, that of the anti Covid pills is certainly much lower than that of monoclonal antibodies, semi-synthetic immunoglobulins produced in the laboratory (starting from the plasma of the recovered / convalescent) which are prepared – and infused – through a complex, laborious and expensive process. Just think that the Regeneron, the cocktail of monoclonal antibodies casirivimab e imdevimab also used to cure Trump and recently approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), it costs approx triple of Merck’s anti Covid pill, that is $ 2,100 per therapy. The price was extrapolated from the cost of the 1.25 million doses purchased by the US government, for a total of $ 2.625 billion. The German government bought 200,000 doses per 400 million euros, this means 2.000 euro a dose. The advantage of the pills in this case lies not only in the much lower cost, but also in the fact that they can be hired independently under medical prescription, while for monoclonals infusion in a specialized clinical setting is required.
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With regard to i vaccines, prices have increased compared to the very first supplies at the start of the global vaccination campaign, however they are certainly much lower than those of the aforementioned therapies. Under the contracts reviewed by the Financial Times, the Comirnaty from Pfizer-BioNTech now it costs 19,50 Euro a dose respect to 15,50 Euro of initial supplies, while it Spikevax from Modern it went from about 19 to 21,50 Euro. The least expensive of the four Covid vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is the Vaxzevria from AstraZeneca, which costs less than 2 euros per dose, while the Johnson & Johnson, the only single-dose of the group, slightly exceeds i 7 Euro. Vaccines therefore have a significantly lower cost than therapies to treat and prevent the aggravation of COVID-19, this despite much of the narrative “no-vax“Is based precisely on the emphasis that these drugs have the sole purpose of enriching the pharmaceutical companies. But if it hadn’t been for vaccines, as demonstrated by epidemiological investigations, not only would we not have regained the freedom that we have now, but above all we would still have huge numbers of victims and infections, as well as closures and collapsing health systems.