Sovaldi: Gilead Greed & Bungling Bureaucrats Equal $1,000 Pill, says AHF

In Advocacy, News by AHF

Knowledge@Wharton, a respected business school blog, explores contributing factors to Gilead’s astronomical price of its new Hepatitis C medication Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) in an April 16th post,

“Sovaldi: Who’s to Blame for the $1,000 a Day Cure?”


AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization and a vocal critic of runaway drug pricing and drug profiteering, repeated its criticism of Gilead Sciences over the price of its new Hepatitis C medication, Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), priced at $1,000 per pill by the Foster City, CA drug company. AHF also blasted government bureaucrats for not doing enough to rein in drug pricing and patents in its negotiations with the pharmaceutical industry. It’s estimated that the government purchases over 70% of drugs used in the United States today for use in programs such as the V.A., Medicare, Medicaid and a number of combined federal/state drug assistance programs. As such, AHF believes the government should be far more aggressive in its dealing with the industry in order to reduce the taxpayers’ burden for the cost of drugs.

“Sovaldi: Who’s to Blame for the $1,000 a Day Cure?”, an April 16th blog post on Knowledge@Wharton, a respected business school blog, explores contributing factors to Gilead’s astronomical price of Sovaldi. In January, following FDA approval of the drug, Gilead priced Sovaldi at $1,000 per pill—$84K for a twelve-week course of treatment—1,100% more than Gilead’s most expensive AIDS drug, Stribild ($80 per-pill or $28,500 per-patient, per year), it’s four-in-one AIDS drug combination.

The Wharton post explores the traditional drug company framework that Gilead operates in (although unlike in traditional drug company R&D, Gilead did not develop Sovaldi, but instead bought—for $11 billion cash—another company, Pharmasset, that had researched and developed the drug) and notes that, “…the blame for high drug prices should be placed on the U.S. health care system instead.”

In the Wharton post, Patricia Danzon, Wharton professor of health care management, also noted, “In the U.S., we have established a system of reimbursement for pharmaceuticals that unfortunately puts absolutely no limits on the prices that companies can charge.” 

“Gilead continues its bet that the sky is the limit on drug pricing, a move that had met little or no resistance from government officials until Congressmen Henry Waxman and Fred Upton stepped up to challenge Gilead on its pricing of Sovaldi,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Gilead remains the poster child for drug company abuse of the public trust and the public trough. It’s heartening to see some government officials finally taking serious note—and taking action—on the runaway train that is drug pricing in the U.S. today.”

Also in the Wharton piece, Mark V. Pauley, Wharton health care management professor, noted, “If we don’t want companies charging high prices, or if someone thinks it’s unethical, then Congress should change the patent system.”

“Taxpayers and government officials are finally realizing that enough is enough: people and institutions are fighting back against Gilead and other drug makers’ greed,” added AHF’s Weinstein.

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