On the eve of the World Hepatitis Summit in Brazil, advocates demand drug companies lower their prices on hepatitis drugs to better help meet treatment goals for the 71 million individuals worldwide living with HCV.
Sao Paulo, Brazil (October 31, 2017) On the eve of the World Hepatitis Summit 2017 in Sao Paulo, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) demands that Gilead lower the price of its lifesaving drug Sofosbuvir, an essential treatment for patients living with hepatitis C virus (HCV). AHF also calls on governments to take all possible measures, including issuing of compulsory licenses, to provide free HCV treatment to everyone who needs it, and particularly to people with an HIV co-infection.
According to the WHO, an estimated 71 million people were living with HCV worldwide in 2015—with only 7% on treatment. Of those, 2.3 million people are co-infected with HIV. Additionally, there are 257 million people living with hepatitis B virus globally, with 2.7 million co-infected with HIV.
While there are few alternative treatment options for HCV, Sofosbuvir has a success rate of over 90% in curing the infection, however drastic price fluctuations from country to country make it unaffordable to many patients.
“Charging more in high- and middle-income countries is just pharma greed, plain and simple,” said AHF Senior Director of Global Advocacy and Policy Loretta Wong. “In Brazil, a 28-day supply of Sofosbuvir costs $2,292 and $2,086 in Argentina—but in Rwanda, Egypt and Ukraine its price is $300. The generic version in India costs $108. Where is Gilead’s sense of social responsibility? They must drop the price now!”
AHF applauds the National Agency of Health Surveillance (Anvisa) of Brazil for rejecting Gilead’s patent application for Sofosbuvir earlier this year. Recently, the Ministry of Health introduced a policy to provide free HCV treatment to all patients—but governments in the rest of the region and globally still need to do more. Other governments can force Gilead to lower the price of Sofosbuvir by threatening to grant compulsory licenses for the drug, if the pharmaceutical company is not willing to negotiate a reasonable price.
“It’s good that we have a lower hep c prevalence in this region compared to the rest of the world,” said AHF Latin America & Caribbean Bureau Director of Advocacy and Testing Miriam Ruiz. “However, governments should seize this opportunity to eradicate hepatitis C completely. That can only happen if drug companies start valuing people’s lives over dollars.”
AHF has a long history of advocating for lower drug prices. From its “Your Money or Your Life” documentary(https://youtu.be/KpdkfLj-mg8) to the “Don’t Hold My Liver Hostage” campaign, which was part of an effort that eventually led to the rejection of the Sofosbuvir patent in India. AHF will continue to press for change by shining the spotlight on pharmaceutical industry greed.
The World Hepatitis Summit will take place on Nov. 1-3 at the Sao Paulo World Trade Centre. http://www.worldhepatitissummit.org