The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron variant

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Antivirals used to treat people with mild to moderate Covid-19 are considered reasonably priced, according to a new preliminary assessment published by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.

The 199-page report released Thursday by the independent non-profit organization analyzes cost-effectiveness based primarily on the drugs’ ability to help a high-risk patient avoid hospital costs. The report also takes into account other benefits, such as how drugs can help stop the spread of the virus. According to the report, fewer cases means fewer overcrowded hospitals and less expense, although these are not as easy to estimate and may not be fully accounted for in the economic model.

The information is based primarily on information from countries other than the United States because the landscape “has changed so rapidly,” according to the report, they are still collecting and analyzing US data.

The report examines the prices of new antivirals – Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir – and GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology’s sotrovimab, the only remaining monoclonal antibody that works against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. It is also evaluating a repurposed antidepressant called fluvoxamine which some studies have shown may be effective in treating coronavirus symptoms, although other studies have not found it to make a difference. The FDA has yet to decide whether fluvoxamine should have emergency use authorization to treat Covid-19.

The monoclonal treatment is the most expensive to $2,100 dose. The cost does not include costs related to the administration or follow-up of the treatment. Molnupiravir is $707Paxlovid is $529 and the repurposed drug fluvoxamine is $12 a course of treatment, according to the report.

Eligible patients in the United States can receive these treatments free of charge during the public health emergency.

The study used a benchmark called the quality-adjusted life year which measures the quality of years a person has left and their life expectancy. Compared to usual care, the evaluation found that the cost per year of life gained is $58,000 for sotrovimab, $46,000 for molnupiravir, $15,000 for Paxlovid and $5,000 for fluvoxamine.

The report’s authors said this assessment is preliminary since the prices are based on factors that could change dramatically. For example, companies could increase the prices of these drugs. And if another variant causes milder disease, that could also change the value of the drug. If a variant sends more people to the hospital, the value of the drugs will increase.

The study also has limitations since it was completed before the spike in cases due to the Omicron variant. The data was also based on foreign and unvaccinated patients.

For now, the report concludes “at their current negotiated price (sotrovimab, molnupiravir, and Paxlovid) or generic market price (fluvoxamine), these drugs appear – for now – to be reasonably priced in line with patient benefits. patients”.

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