BMS gets heat from advocates over pricing plan for its hep C drug
- Bristol-Myers Squibb is in talks with health authorities throughout the world over how to price Daklinza (daclatasvir), used to treat hepatitis C in conjunction with Gilead's Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) in various countries.
- There is widespread concern among advocates and payers that certain new, big-name hep C medications such as Gilead's Sovaldi and Harvoni (sofosbuvir/ledapasvir) are overpriced and potentially out of patients' reach.
- Critics, including Doctors Without Borders, are concerned that while the lowest-income countries will gain access to Daklinza and Gilead's hep C meds at lower prices thanks to a tiered pricing plan, middle-income countries—where 70% of HCV-infected patients are believed to live—will not benefit from price breaks.
Sometimes, the best intentions are perceived as not only insufficient in their ability to achieve the desired outcome, but potentially counterproductive. This is the situation in which BMS finds itself. The company plans to address pricing issues in up to 90 countries, offering pricing in line with the country's economic status. The lowest prices will be reserved for the lowest-income and least developed nations.
While BMS maintains that it is trying to broaden access, critics counter that BMS tends to be secretive, reflecting an attitude that was prevalent in the earliest days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, when pharma companies did not share information about pricing freely.
The reality here is that tiered pricing is here to stay and an important strategy for dealing with very high-priced, but much-needed, drugs.