Healthcare

New York to deliver remdesivir to Florida after DeSantis dismisses offer for help

New York is delivering a small shipment of the experimental coronavirus treatment drug remdesivir to Florida, just one day after Florida's governor said he didn't need the state's help, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced.

In a press release Friday, Cuomo said his state is sending one day's supply of the drug to Florida as the state struggles with a massive spike in COVID-19 infections.

"Today, on behalf of all New Yorkers, we will deploy Remdesivir to help Florida care for patients as it waits for further supply from the federal government. We will stand by our fellow Americans every step of the way as our nation fights COVID-19 together," Cuomo said. 

Cuomo said he is returning the generosity extended to New York by other states earlier this year when it was the epicenter of the disease's outbreak in the U.S.

"When New York was climbing the COVID mountain with no end in sight and resources were scarce, we were incredibly moved by the generosity of states around the country that stepped up to provide supplies and medical personnel in our time of need," Cuomo said.

The shipment of remdesivir will treat 280 patients, enough to last through Saturday, when a federal shipment arrives, Cuomo said.

Cuomo has made a few offers to help states that are struggling with a surge of COVID-19 infections, most recently on Wednesday.

During a press conference the following day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) dismissed Cuomo's offer and said it was not anything the state was interested in.

"They're not helping us," DeSantis said. "I think that someone reached out to our office on ventilators. We've got 6,000 ventilators just, you know, sitting idle, so we don't necessarily need it."

DeSantis has taken repeated jabs at Cuomo for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in New York, particularly his decision to force nursing homes to accept infected patients in the early days of the pandemic.

On Friday, DeSantis said he had personally secured an additional supply of remdesivir from the Trump administration, which is also due to arrive Saturday.

"I am happy to report on Saturday our hospitals will be receiving additional remdesivir," DeSantis said. He added that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will send 427 cases of the drug.

He did not mention New York.

Earlier this week, Democratic members of Florida's congressional delegation sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, saying the state's remdesivir supply has been exhausted and asking the administration to expedite new shipments.

Remdesivir is the only drug so far that has been shown to have some effect at treating COVID-19 patients. Manufacturer Gilead donated an initial supply to HHS to be distributed to hospitals. That supply ran out at the end of June. 

HHS said it had "secured" 500,000 additional treatment courses to last through September, though hospitals and insurers will now be charged for the drug. After September, HHS will no longer have a role in distribution.

Gilead set the price for remdesivir at $520 per vial for patients with private insurance, or $3,120 for the full treatment course. Some government insurance programs will get a lower price of $390 per vial, or $2,340 per treatment course.

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