Evidence Turning in Favor of Gilead’s HCV Drug, Sovaldi
A lot of discussion is taking place in the US about Gilead's Hepatitis C (HCV) drug, Sovaldi. The major controversy surrounding the drug is its cost, which is $84,000 in the U. S. for a full course of treatment. Insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are quite angry over the price of the drug and find it quite costly.
On the other hand, the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has lately given approval to the drug as being cost-effective. It has recommended the drug for sub-groups of patients.
Recently, Gilead announced that it will sell the drug in India for $900 for the complete course. This is nearly 99% discounted compared to the cost of treatment in the United States. Gilead has also planned to sell the treatment in some African countries at low cost.
Meanwhile, some medical industry experts think that the US should learn from the UK in this particular matter. There is no doubt that the drug is expensive, but when its 'cost per cure' is calculated and compared with other existing treatment then it's not much higher. There would be between 3.7 and 4 million HCV cases in the U. S and to treat all of them would cost between $227 and $336 billion. If the amount is considered then it is a matter of concern for private and public payers. But it shall also be noted that not every patient would be treated with Sovaldi.
Also, it is considered that the drug is worth being charged. One of the aspects that determine this factor is at the end who benefits from the cost savings. People keep on changing their insurers therefore insurers will not be the ones who will benefit from long-term savings. Experts think for many HCV patients, Medicare would end up as a beneficiary.
But even if insurers are able to cover Sovaldi for longer time then experts think private (long-run cost savings) and social (huge gain in QALYs and very low cost per QALY) benefits justify the cost. This is the main reason that makes the UK decision an educational one. With all these and other factors, things seem to be bending in the favor of Sovaldi.
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