Pennsylvania uses ‘weighted lottery’ to distribute lifesaving remdesivir in favor of low-income patients
- The antiviral treatment has reduced risk of death for Covid-19 patients by 62%
- But it is scarcely available despite the number of infections rising across US
- Healthcare providers have been tipping the scales to decide who receives it
Pennsylvania has been using a ‘weighted lottery’ to distribute lifesaving drug remdesivir in favor of low-income patients.
The antiviral treatment, which has been effective in reducing the risk of death for coronavirus patients by 62 per cent, is scarcely available.
This has meant that a large number of states have been left in fear of running out of remdesivir as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise across the US – with a total of 4,494,966 infections and 152,062 deaths recorded as of yesterday.
In the hopes of rationing the drug Pennsylvania has been encouraging healthcare providers to use a ‘weighted lottery’ system in order to determine which patients receive it.
But it has been reported that the decision, rather than being based on medical need, is instead being weighted in favor of those further down the socioeconomic spectrum.
Remdesivir, which has been effective in reducing the risk of death for coronavirus patients by 62 per cent, is scarcely available, leaving states in fear of running out as cases continue to rise across the US. Pictured: Coronavirus patients in Texas
This has sparked concern that not enough attention has been given to patient well-being which could set a dangerous precedent and have serious ramifications for the Pennsylvanian health care system further down the line.
Betsy McCaughey, chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and former lieutenant governor of New York and, told Fox News: ‘They’ve decided to do some social engineering and tilt the scales and make sure that the drug goes to people who live in low-income areas in preference to patients, maybe in the same ICU with the same medical problems, who live in a nicer neighborhood.’
McCaughey said she feared that the middle class would suffer if this kind of rationale became the normal practice.
‘I don’t think we should be rationing scarce medical resources against the middle class. We’ve got to treat everybody the same. They’re starting with remdesivir but this is only the beginning,’ she said.
Pennsylvania has reportedly been using a ‘weighted lottery’ to distribute lifesaving drug remdesivir (pictured) in favor of low-income patients
The US, as of yesterday, had recorded a total of 4,494,966 infections and 152,062 deaths from the start of the coronavirus crisis
But defending their decision the Pennsylvania Department of Health stated the system helped ‘redress inequities that make health and safety less accessible to disadvantaged groups.’
‘One strategy to accomplish this is to use a metric like the Area Deprivation Index to identify patients from disadvantaged communities, then give them somewhat increased chances to receive treatment in a weighted lottery,’ it wrote on the website.
Pennsylvania is seemingly not alone in pushing remdesivir away from the middle class after a panel of medical experts and ethicists developed an ‘ethically principled’ process to distribute the initial supply of the drug in South Carolina, according to one of the panelists Dr. Dee Ford.