• Only 1% of hepatitis C patients have received a life-saving, new and expensive drug

    Andrew Pollack reports:

    Record sales of a new hepatitis C drug pushed the first-quarter earnings of Gilead Sciences far beyond expectations, the company reported on Tuesday, but could also heighten concerns about the high cost of the drug, known as Sovaldi, and the ability of the health care system to pay for it.

    The $2.3 billion in sales of Sovaldi appears to have shattered the previous record for sales of a drug in its first full quarter on the market. It even appears to have already eclipsed the record for first-year sales, at least in the United States. [...]

    The drug, a pill taken once a day, has a higher cure rate, a shorter duration of treatment and fewer side effects than previous treatments.

    But Sovaldi, which has a list price of $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 for a typical course of treatment, has become a flash point in a debate over drug prices. [...]

    “If cost were not a factor, we would want to treat the entire population,” said Dr. Rena Fox, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She said it was frustrating that “we finally get this great treatment and then we withhold it.”

    Elsewhere in the piece we learn that of the 3-4 million Americans with hep C, at most 30,000 have used Sovaldi. Oh, but let us not ration!

    Prior TIE coverage of this drug here. H/t Bradley Flansbaum.

    @afrakt

     

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