Gilead will price the first all-oral treatment for the virus, to hit the market in October, above the current $84,000 Sovaldi formulation, which is prescribed and taken with ribavirin or interferon, older medications that must be injected. Advocates ask ‘why?’ when they just slashed pricing to $300 per month in India.
LOS ANGELES (September 19, 2014) In a September 12 story by Reuters, Gilead Sciences indicated that it will price the next formulation—and first all-oral treatment—for Hepatitis C, above the current $84,000 it charges for the current formulation of its drug Sovaldi, which is currently prescribed and taken with either ribavirin and interferon, older medications that must be injected. Taken together, the cost for the current treatment approaches $100,000 for a twelve-week course of medicine.
Now, Gilead officials announced that they will price the next generation of the hepatitis treatment, which is expected to hit the market by October 10th, well above the price of the initial formulation. The news came within days of the company’s announcement that it was also cutting the price of Sovaldi in India to as little as $300 per month.
“Gilead, have you no shame?” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization and a vocal critic of runaway drug pricing and drug profiteering. “Gilead did not even pay to research and develop Sovaldi—It instead purchased Pharmasset, the company that had already developed the drug, for $11 billion in cash. Now, the price will be more than the already outrageous $84,000 it charges here in the US.”
The Bay Area pharmaceutical company drew outrage—and Congressional scrutiny—when it priced the first generation of Sovaldi at $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment—or $1,000 per pill. According to a July 14th news posting on the website FiercePharma, Pharmasset, the company that initially developed Sovaldi, and for which Gilead paid $11 billion in cash, had intended to price the drug at $36,000 for the twelve week course of treatment—less than half of what Gilead ultimately priced the drug at after it purchased the smaller drug company.
“Astute government officials and other insurers and payers should really press Gilead as to how or why the company can treat and price Sovaldi just like one of its AIDS drugs in in India—$300 per month, versus $28,000 per month in the US—yet continue to charge $84,000—and now even more—in the US? The fanfare around the discounted pricing announcement in India peels back the curtain to reveal that the US price is based nothing more than the unbridled corporate greed of a company that overpaid for an asset and is now gouging taxpayer-funded health programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, as well as private insurers to recoup its financial investment. The largest purchaser of these drugs are taxpayers, which support care for over 75% of people living with HIV in the United States. Gilead, have you really no shame?”