Tags: 1000-a-pill | sovaldi | cure | hepatitis c

$1,000-a-Pill Sovaldi Cures 9 of 10 With Hepatitis C at High Cost

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Gilead Sciences Inc. has produced a drug called Sovaldi that may cure hepatitis C but costs $1,000 per pill.

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 09:08 AM

The new hepatitis C pill Sovaldi can cure the disease in nine of 10 patients, but the $1,000-a-pill price tag has sparked controversy among some medical professionals.

According to The Associated Press, more than three million Americans suffer from hepatitis C, which can severely damage the liver. Some 15,000 died of the disease in 2007 and liver transplants average $577,000.

"If it's going to get me the medicine, I'll put my hand out there with a tin cup," said Stuart Rose, a hepatitis C patient in New York City, noting that his insurance would pay only $4,000 a year for medications.

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Sovaldi's owner, Gilead Sciences, Inc., reported the sale of the drug reached $2.3 billion worldwide in the first three months of this year. Gilead 's vice president Gregg Alton told the AP that the drug's high cure rate makes it "a real huge value."

Medicare is forbidden from bargaining for lower prices with drug companies by law, prompting critics to charge that American patients are being soaked financially while many other countries set their own drug prices.

Dr. Steven Miller, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Express Scripts, wrote in a Forbes guest post that he did not believe Gilead Sciences could justify the cost of Sovaldi.

"Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of the drug Sovaldi, is generating enormous profits on the backs of patients here and ensuring significant profits in other countries like Egypt and India even while pricing its drug at a 99 percent discount in those countries," Miller wrote.

"Sovaldi costs $84,000 for a course of treatment. Add in other therapies that supplement Sovaldi, and now you're talking about $100,000 or so to treat a single patient. To use Sovaldi to treat each of the 3 million hepatitis C patients in the United States, it would cost around $300 billion, or about the same amount we annually spend for all other drugs combined," Miller continued.

He said Gilead has a right to expect a reasonable return on its investment after purchasing the company that made Sovaldi for $11 billion but the company had a "lack of self-awareness — and unmitigated gall — to price Sovaldi the way Gilead has."

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The new hepatitis C pill Sovaldi can cure the disease in nine of 10 patients, but the $1,000-a-pill price tag has sparked controversy among some medical professionals.
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2014-08-18
Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 09:08 AM
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