Ducey Tweets Out Remdesivir Order, Meets with Questions About Hydroxychloroquine

PHOENIX – In a tweet on Saturday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced that Arizona would be getting 361 cases of the Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug used to treat COVID-19.

Remdesivir received emergency approval in May by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to NPR, Gilead Sciences, which produces Remdesivir, “will charge $520 per vial for patients with private insurance, with some government programs getting a lower price. With a double-dose the first day, that comes out to $3,120 for the five-day treatment course.”

Ducey’s tweet was met with many comments questioning his position on hydroxychloroquine.

The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons has called on Ducey end his “arbitrary interference” with the use of hydroxychloroquine. In May, Ducey said he would not rescind his order denying access to hydroxychloroquine but denied that he was prohibiting the use of it.

Association of American Physicians & Surgeons member, Dr. Lee Vliet, of Tucson, wrote in May about both drugs and speculated as to who would benefit:

In decades of widespread use, HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) has an impressive safety record. Irregular heart rhythm or damage to the retina occur rarely, usually with high doses used long term. FDA shows only 62 cardiac deaths attributed to HCQ out of more than 50 million prescriptions, or 0.000124 percent (1.2 out of each 1 million Rx). Rheumatology guidelines for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis do not even require baseline electrocardiograms before prescribing HCQ, since the risk is minimal.

Approximately $70 million in U.S. taxpayer funding began Gilead’s partnership with the U.S. Army, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop remdesivir. Initially for treating Ebola, it failed to show benefit and was shelved. If remdesivir is used to treat COVID-19, Gilead shareholders, not the taxpayers, will profit.

Early results of the first clinical trial of remdesivir against placebo in coronavirus were announced at the White House Apr 30, and showed modest benefits, according to The New York Times. Surviving patients given remdesivir were discharged 4 days sooner than patients given placebo, though no criteria were given for determining improvement. Death rates were not significantly different. About 25 percent of patients receiving remdesivir had potentially severe side effects, including multiple organ dysfunction, septic shock, acute kidney injury, and low blood pressure. Another 23% showed evidence on lab tests of liver damage.

Vliet notes that HCQ costs the patient on average less than $10 (range 37-63 cents per tablet), for the usual 5-7 day course of treatment. Remdesivir costs upwards of $1,000 per dose, plus the added costs of having to be hospitalized to receive it.

In addition to HCQ’s low cost, major pharmaceutical companies (Novartis, Bayer, Teva, and others) have donated nearly 50 million doses to the Strategic National Stockpile. Tragically for Americans sick with COVID-19, most of this medicine still sits in warehouses because state governments are interfering with its use in outpatients when it has greatest effect.

Patients’ lives are being sacrificed on the altar of financial interests and elite D.C. powerbrokers instead of being entrusted to the judgment of patients’ own physicians. We are witnessing the deadly consequences of bureaucrats and governors practicing medicine.

Money over medical wisdom, and politics above patients: two viruses more lethal than COVID-19.

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