Aetna signs deal with Gilead Sciences Inc.


Aetna inc., health care company, on Friday announced that it has signed a deal with Gilead Sciences Inc., to make new hepatitis C drugs for customers with liver-destroying virus.

Aetna said the deal with Gilead will bring discounts for Sovaldi and Harvoni, which have list prices of about $84,000 and $94,000, respectively, for a course of treatment. But as of now, the amount for the discount has not been released.

Aetna's decision came after the move by two huge prescription benefit managers, Express Scripts Holdings Co. and CVS Health Corp., to compress big discounts from makers of a new generation of hepatitis C medicines.

In addition, AbbVie Inc.'s combo treatment, named 'Viekira Pak', was also launched in the last month with a list price of about $83,300.

According to a company spokeswoman, Aetna's deal will affect over 10.8 million customers who get their health care coverage from an employer or a health care exchange.

It has been told that patients before filling up the prescriptions for any hepatitis C drug must go through Aetna's preauthorization process.

As per the earlier treatment schedule, people need to require taking both pills and injected drugs, which causes nasty flu-like symptoms. In some cases, people cannot tolerate symptoms and thus they require treatments for up to a year.

The new Gilead and AbbVie pills are tremendous improvements, but there are high prices, for example $1,000 a pill for Sovaldi, which has galvanized health insurers and prescription benefit managers to demand big discounts.

It has also allowed them to include the drugs on their formularies of preferred medicines, or to restrict coverage to just one company's treatments.

It is so because almost 3.2 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C, which generally doesn't show noticeable symptoms until the liver is damaged.

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