Insurers push back against cost of new Hep C treatment
- America’s Health Insurance Plans, the leading health insurance trade group, says Solvadi (sofosbuvir), Gilead’s new drug for hepatitis, too expensive.
- Sovaldi is a $1000-per-pill medication, with an overall cost of $84,000 for a complete course of therapy
- Gilead has pushed back against criticism, citing Sovaldi’s high cure rate and the fact that the combined cost of other treatment regimens and treating complications can be as expensive, if not more so, as a course of Sovaldi.
When Solvaldi (sofobuvir), which is marketed by Gilead, was approved in December 2013 by FDA for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, it was heralded as a significant breakthrough. Not only was it the first drug for HCV to demonstrate safety and efficacy in treating certain types of HCV without combo therapy with interferon, but it also showed a demonstrated cure rate of more than 90% with very few side effects.
Now, less than six months later, the health insurance trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, has pushed back, saying that the cost of covering Sovaldi and other high-priced drugs is unsustainable. With a cost of $84,000 per treatment, this could get very expensive not only for payers, but for the 3.2 million HCV-infected Americans who may have to shoulder significant co-pays. Gilead’s response: When comparing the cost of Sovaldi with other treatments, consider that previous treatments had a 75% cure rate at best, involved many pills combined with injectable interferon and often led to painful and expensive complications. With $2 billion in first-quarter sales, Sovaldi is poised to become a top drug.