January 17, 2021

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Summoned the health sectors | PRESENT


The increased cost of treatment for Covid-19 patients keeps the different components of health concerned about access to services for hospitalized cases, which will raise wide discussion next week in search of alternatives.

The situation is such that the Department of Health (DS) confirmed last night that there will be a meeting on the matter. “Following FDA approval of the convalescent plasma infusion, the Secretary of the Department of Health will hold a meeting next week with the Hospital Association, the College of Physicians, blood banks, and insurers, in order to to discuss the distribution and administration of this treatment to our patients, ”said Michelle Torres, press spokesperson for Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano.

The main points point to how the plasma infusion treatment and the antiviral Remdesivir will be distributed and administered, which together will cost patients who require it almost $ 4,000.

As I had advanced THE SPOKESMAN, the situation for hospitalized patients with a diagnosis with positive symptoms of Covid-19 changed after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of both treatments and they stopped being administered experimentally until August 23 when the regulator approved them.

The approval means that the State will no longer provide them free of charge and that each patient has to pay for the plasma infusion treatment and Remdesivir. The cost for each plasma infusion is $ 750, while the commercial purchase of the antiviral Remdesivir costs $ 3,200.

Jorge Galva, executive director of the Health Insurance Administration (ASES), which operates the government coverage (Plan Vital), told THE SPOKESMAN which also appointed a rapid action committee to address how this matter will be handled. Plan Vital, which provides services through provider networks –mainly to the indigent- covers 1.1 million Puerto Ricans.

Galva announced that today “said committee will be giving me the first report in a meeting” and added that “ASES will always attend to all the initiatives that protect and benefit the more than 1.1 million beneficiaries.”

Until it was approved by the FDA, the treatment was paid for by the federal government and used in just over 64,000 patients in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The case of Remdesivir

While the discussions are taking place, the DS reported that it is already conducting an orientation process for administrators and executive directors of hospital facilities regarding the commercial acquisition of Remdesivir.

With this antiviral the case is that its cost is high and the convalescent patient of the new virus will have to receive more than one dose. The same is true for plasma and you may need several infusions.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government assigned donated supplies of Remdesivir to states and territories, including Puerto Rico, however, this process transitioned to the acquisition of it through the open market. This is why the DS has been guiding hospital managers and administrators so that they acquire the drug and can continue to supply it to Covid-19 patients, ”González Feliciano said.

Meanwhile, Jessica Cabrera, director of the DS Biosafety Office, explained that the transition process for the purchase of Remdesivir began, in anticipation of the completion of the donated drug.

“This process began on August 14, 2020 and, to date, about 25 hospitals have requested the acquisition of the drug, through the procedure established by the federal government, with the DS being a facilitator of the process,” he added.

Salud reported that states and territories will receive -in principle- an allocation of supplies that hospitals can buy through the intermediary (vendor) designated by the company Gilead, manufacturer of the drug. The agency added that the current supply of the donated medicine is 378 ‘vials’ and is a contingency reserve to maintain the continuity of treatment for Covid-19 patients.

To date, the DS has held meetings with insurance companies and hospitals so that said treatment is provided to all patients who meet medical criteria, free of charge. During the period of allocation by the federal government, the DS received 113 boxes of Remdesivir. This allocation is equivalent to a total amount of 4,520 ‘vials’, which have been distributed to 39 hospitals, following established procedures.

Earlier this week, Jaime Plá, executive president of the Hospital Association, said that hospitals had not yet reached an agreement with medical plans regarding the cost of treatment for patients. He was not available yesterday afternoon.

He indicated then that there is an issue to be resolved and for that reason they requested that the Vital Plan give instructions to the insurers on how they were going to cover it.

An analysis carried out by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and KFF concluded that treatment for Covid-19 cases that are considered serious could reach up to $ 20,000.



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