WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials say hospitals bought only about a third of the doses of remdesivir that they were offered over the last few months to treat COVID-19, as the government stops overseeing the drug’s distribution.
Between July and September, 500,000 treatment courses were made available to state and local health departments but only about 161,000 were purchased.
Dr. John Redd of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that “we see this as a very good sign” that supply now outstrips demand and it’s OK for hospitals to start buying the drug, also known as Veklury, directly from maker Gilead Sciences Inc.
The government will buy some of the excess for the national stockpile. Redd did not say how much.
Several studies suggest remdesivir can shorten time to recovery and hospital stays by four days on average.
At $3,200 per treatment course, it’s price might be playing a role in reduced demand. Hospitals do not get reimbursed separately for the drug. Instead, it’s included in an overall payment Medicare makes for a hospital stay.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Italy tallies 2,540 coronavirus cases, highest in 5 months
— New York City school district, largest in nation, to test monthly for virus
— NFL postpones Steelers-Titans game after more positive tests
— The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and possible COVID-19 relief bill with a price tag above $1.5 trillion.
— France’s health minister is threatening to close bars and ban family gatherings, if the rise in virus cases doesn’t improve.
— Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week to a still-high 837,000, suggesting the economy is struggling to sustain a tentative recovery from the summer.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — A British lawmaker has apologized for travelling to London to attend a coronavirus debate in Parliament despite having COVID-19 symptoms. She also took a train home to Scotland after getting a positive test.
The Scottish National Party suspended Margaret Ferrier on Thursday after she said that “there is no excuse for my actions” and that she had reported herself to police.
Ferrier said she took a test Saturday after experiencing mild symptoms, but she still took a train to London on Monday. After learning Monday evening that he had tested positive, she said, she caught a train home Tuesday “without seeking advice.”
People in Britain are told they must self-isolate if they have COVID-10 symptoms and while they are waiting for a test result.
Earlier Thursday, Stanley Johnson, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s father, apologized after he was photographed shopping without a face covering.
Britain’s government recently raised fines for not wearing masks in places like shops in a bid to curb a spike in infections.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Republican state lawmaker’s positive test for the coronavirus has prompted legislative leaders to cancel the Pennsylvania House’s voting session.
Human resources workers were