US Senate report slams Gilead over Sovaldi price, insinuates culture of profits over patients
- Medicaid programs spent $1.3 billion before rebates last year on Gilead's drugs to treat 2.4% of enrollees with hepatitis C, according to a new report from the U.S. Senate.
- There are more than 700,000 people with hep C in state Medicaid programs, and the vast majority of them are still waiting for treatment.
- Gilead disagrees with the implications of the report, which suggests Gilead puts profits ahead of patients. According to the company, once discounts and rebates are factored in, the new oral hepatitis C treatments (Harvoni and Solvaldi) end up costing less than the older, less effective interferon-based regimens.
The findings are the result of an 18-month investigation by the Senate Finance Committee. The report highlights the $1,000 cost-per-pill for Sovaldi, and the even higher price tag for a 12-week course of Harvoni. It points to the fact that Medicaid and Medicare combined spent more than $5 billion on Gilead's hepatitis C drugs in 2014 on only a small percentage of HCV-infected patients.
Gilead argued the pushback against its pricing methods does not take into consideration drug acquisition cost of the impact of discounts and rebates. Gilead spent $11 billion to acquire Sovaldi and Harvoni from Pharmasset.
Criticism is not likely to dissipate soon. A large contingent of lawmakers, physicians, and patients have expressed outrage over drug pricing. Gilead has borne the brunt of this, as its drugs are expensive and necessary for a large number of people.