Express Scripts gearing up to snub Gilead in favor of AbbVie hep C drug
CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated that Steve Miller is the CEO of Express Scripts. This was a typo; he is a senior vice president and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).
- The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Express Scripts, Steve Miller, made it clear last week on a conference call with analysts that the pharmacy benefit manager is looking for a treatment for chronic genotype 1 (GC1) hepatitis C (HCV) that is just as effective as Gilead's Sovaldi (sofosbuvir)—but cheaper. AbbVie's late-stage HCV drug may be what it's looking for.
- AbbVie has a fixed-dose drug in development for CG1 HCV which is designed to provide HCV-infected patients with an all-oral, interferon-free treatment option.
- AbbVie's goal is to win approval of its new drug this year and launch before the beginning of 2015.
There always seems to be a debate raging over the price of Gilead's HCV-1 treatment Sovaldi (sofobuvir) and now its latest HCV-1 fixed-dose combo treatment, Harvoni (sofosbuvir/ledipasvir), which cost $84,000 and $94,500 for 12-week courses of treatment, respectively.
In some quarters, including among managers at Express Scripts, the conversation has become extremely adversarial and strategic. The benefits manager went as far as to assemble a coalition to exclude Sovaldi from formularies.
Meanwhile, Express Scripts and other payers have been waiting for the inevitable approval of competitor HCV-1 treatments. AbbVie has not yet publicized the pricing strategy for its new product. And Gilead continues to enjoy brisk sales for Sovaldi, which raked in $8.6 billion in sales for the first three quarters of the year, and more recently Harvoni, which had more than 1,000 prescriptions written during the second week after its launch.