The price of COVID treatments from Pfizer, Merck, GSK, aligned

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Drug prices used to treat COVID-19 for those at risk of serious illness are “reasonably aligned” with how much it helps patients, according to a draft report from the Drug Price Research Organization, the Institute for Clinical Review and (ICER), reports Reuters.

The report evaluated Pxlovid, produced by Pfizer, and Molnupiravir, produced by Merck & Co – both recently approved antiviral pills – as well as Sotrovimab, a drug with intravenous monoclonal antibodies developed by GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology. Inc.

The three treatments – approved as a matter of urgency for people with COVID-19, a mild to moderate form considered at risk of progressing to a serious illness – were purchased by the US government and distributed free of charge to healthcare providers.

The US government has paid about $ 530 for a 5-day course of Paxlovid, $ 700 for a five-day course of Molnupiravir and $ 2,100 for a course of Sotrovimab – the only antibody treatment available that has been shown to work against Omicron.

In clinical trials, ICER said that Molnupiravir reduced hospitalization rates for high-risk patients by 30% compared to a 88% reduction in risk for Paxlovid and 79% for Sotrovimab.

“Right now, the price-benefit alignment seems reasonable,” ICER President Steve Pearson told Reuters.

Pfizer and Merck are meant to be taken at home, while the GSK antibody is given in hospitals or infusion centers.

ICER also looked at the cost-effectiveness of Fluvoxamine, a 40-year-old generic pill used to treat conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, at a cost of about $ 10 for a 10-day cure. .

Researchers at the University of Minnesota called for emergency clearance of Fluvoxamine in December for high-risk COVID-19 patients after studies showed that the antidepressant, which also has anti-inflammatory properties, reduced hospitalization rates by 32%.

ICER uses a decades-old formula called quality-adjusted life year (QALY) – the cost of a year of good health for a patient – to estimate the fair value.

Through this and other measures, ICER said that Fluvoxamine offers the best value at $ 6,000 per QALY earned. He calculated that Paxlovid was second at $ 18,000 per QALY earned, followed by Molnupiravir at $ 55,000 and Sotrovimab at $ 69,000.

Pearson said the pandemic has a lot of “moving parts” and if the risk of hospitalization due to Omicron infection or a future variant turns out to be lower, the ICER analysis would change.

The analysis only applies to the use of medicines for patients at high risk of severe COVID-19. If treatments were used in low-risk populations, “their cost-effectiveness would be significantly reduced,” ICER said.

ICER intends to accept public comments on its project and issue an updated evidence report by the end of March.