Inside Gilead's ambitious new hep C elimination project in Georgia
- In an ambitious, and unprecedented, program, Gilead will provide free hepatitis C (HCV) drugs, including Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and Harvoni (sofosbuvir/ledipasvir), to infected residents of the country Georgia in an effort to create a hep C-free zone.
- Almost 7% of people in Georgia are HCV-infected, making it the place with the third highest prevalence of hep C in the world (after Egypt and Mongolia).
- This region, which has a population of roughly 5 million people, will serve as the epicenter of a proof-of-concept study. The first year, 5,000 people will receive free medication, after which Gilead will provide 20,000 people per year with free hep C medications.
This study, which is backed by the CDC, is important for Gilead for several reasons. One reason is the intense pressure it is facing over the prices of its hep C medications, which range from $80,000 to $94,500 for a single course of treatment.
However, more broadly, the goal is to show that with well-orchestrated pharmacologic community-based intervention, HCV can be eliminated. One concern for Gilead is that other municipalities and governments may request free medication, but the larger goal is for international and donor groups to make investments towards this goal.