Gilead Sciences Inc., the maker of the expensive new hepatitis C (HCV) drug Solvadi, has announced the upcoming launch of a new version of the drug, which will cost even more. Currently, Solvadi sells for about $1,000 a pill, with the cost of a 12-week round of treatment costing about $84,000 for the Solvadi alone, or about $95,000 for a treatment regimen that includes Solvadi and two other medications taken with it – ribavirin and interferon. The next generation version of Solvadi will combine Solvadi with the experimental therapy ledipasivir in an eight-week treatment regimen, eliminating the need for ribavirin and interferon. Gilead plans to price the new version based on the current combined cost of a treatment regimen that includes Solvadi, ribavirin, and interferon.
Although Gilead has failed to respond to the pleas of state authorities and federal legislators in the U.S. to provide greater discounts on Solvadi, the U.S. drug maker has licensed the drug to a number of drug makers in India that will sell cheaper versions of Solvadi in 91 developing nations. In the United States, where about 3 million people suffer from chronic hepatitis C (HCV), the cost of treating all these patients could reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars at current prices. Worldwide, about 150 million people suffer from HCV, but the high cost of the drug has presented an obstacle to its use in poor countries.
By the experts and editors at Medical Law Perspectives.
For more information on HCV and other forms of hepatitis, see the Medical Law Perspectives, September 2014 Report: Hepatitis: Provider Malpractice and Patient Injury