AIDS organization calls out Gilead Sciences for offering its Hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni to India and other countries for $900, yet charges the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs nearly $50,000 per veteran. With rates of Hepatitis C nearly five-times higher among veterans than in the general population, Sovaldi and Harvoni are expected to cost the VA over $1.3 billion over the next two years.
WASHINGTON (October 23, 2014) , the world’s largest AIDS organization and an outspoken advocate against runaway drug pricing for lifesaving HIV/AIDS and other medications, today called on ., the manufacturer of Sovaldi (and its combination form, Harvoni), a new treatment for Hepatitis C, to lower the price of this drug for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the $900 price per person for Sovaldi it charges India and other countries. Currently, the VA pays nearly $50,000 per person for Sovaldi. The price of Harvoni, a combo drug of which Sovaldi is the primary ingredient, is expected to cost the VA and other payers even more.
“Gilead’s rabid greed has now extended to extracting as much profit as possible from the care of America’s service men and women,” said Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “As a nation, we have promised the members of our armed forces – men and women who put their lives at risk protecting our freedoms – that when they come home, we will take care of them. By charging our VA system nearly $50,000 per person for the treatment of Hepatitis C, Gilead is driving up health care costs by billions of dollars which will ultimately lead to the rationing of care for our veterans. Even more galling, Gilead charges the VA $50,000 while it offers other countries the same treatment for approximately $900 per person per year. AHF is calling on Gilead CEO, John Martin to do his patriotic duty by offering the VA the same $900 price it charges India and other countries for Sovaldi.”
Earlier this month, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raised the alarm on the impact Hepatitis C drug pricing on the VA. In a statement, Sen. Sanders said “My goal as chairman is to help VA provide the best quality care to our veterans. But when VA has to spend an enormous amount of money on prescription drugs – money that has not been budgeted for – other important services are put at risk,” said Sanders. “This is an issue that has to be explored because when we put money into the VA we want to make sure it goes toward making sure veterans get the best care possible, not to pad the profit margins of large pharmaceutical companies”.
According to the statement put out by Sen. Sanders’ office, the VA treats approximately 174,000 veterans with Hepatitis C, and the costly new treatment is projected to cost the Department of Veterans Affairs $1.3 billion over the next two years.