Remdesivir, a malaria drug that has been repurposed to treat COVID-19 and currently represents the best hope for attacking the disease, now has a price tag. On Monday, the company behind the medication, Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), said it will be sold at $390 per vial. Therefore, the basic price for a five-day treatment course using six vials would be $2,340.

Gilead added that "[b]ecause of the way the U.S. system is set up and the discounts that government healthcare programs expect," the price for U.S. private insurance companies will be $520 per vial. This equates to $3,120 per treatment course, with the patient's final bill depending on the policy's coverage.

Gloved hands holding a vial of medicine.

Image source: Gilead Sciences.

Subsequent to the pharmaceutical company's news, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced that it has contracted with the company to secure over 500,000 treatment courses through September. This constitutes nearly all of the company's estimated production during that time. The drug will be made available to U.S. hospitals at the price Gilead has set.

In an unusual move, Gilead posted a detailed account on its website of how it arrived at its pricing, given the investment it's put into the drug and the immense global need for a COVID-19 treatment.

"In making our decision on how to price remdesivir, we considered the full scope of our responsibilities," the company wrote. "We started with our immediate responsibility to ensure price is in no way a hindrance to ensuring rapid and broad treatment."

Remdesivir was granted emergency use authorization to treat certain COVID-19 patients by the Food and Drug Administration in May, even though not all clinical trials on such use were encouraging.

On Monday, Gilead shares closed essentially flat on the day, while the broader stock market posted notable gains.