Sydney Lupkin

Now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized remdesivir for emergency use in seriously ill COVID-19 patients, the experimental drug is another step closer to full approval. That's when most drugs get price tags.

Gilead Sciences, which makes remdesivir, is donating its initial supply of 1.5 million doses, but the company has signaled it will need to start charging for the drug to make production sustainable. It's unclear when that decision might be made.

Gilead Sciences, the drugmaker behind the experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir, spent more on lobbying Congress and the administration in the first quarter of 2020 than it ever has before, according to federal filings.

The pharmaceutical company spent $2.45 million on lobbying in the first three months of the year, a 32% increase over the $1.86 million it spent in the first quarter of 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic has renewed concerns about the dependence of the United States on other countries for supplies of prescription drugs and ingredients.

The U.S. ignored the decline of domestic medical manufacturing and waited too long to seriously invest in the federal office designed to prepare for pandemics, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in an interview.

"We are now paying both in needless exposure by our front-line health workers and needless deaths for having not been better prepared for this," he says.

Rene Roach fired off a quick email in late March for an update on a colorectal cancer clinical trial for which she hoped to qualify.

Worried about the coronavirus, she asked, almost as an afterthought, whether the study had been put on hold because of the pandemic.The answer crushed her: It had been.

"That's when COVID-19 shut down everything," says Roach, 50, of Germantown, Md.

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