Is the UK's NHS about to snub Sovaldi?
- Internal documents from the UK's NHS suggest that funding Gilead's hep C cure Sovaldi for 20,000 patients per year would cost the government more than $1.6 billion per year, Pharmafile reports—a price that is considered "prohibitive" by senior NHS officials.
- The UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) gave Sovaldi a qualified "yes" back in August, recommending its funding for the treatment of at least three genotypes of HCV.
- Several public health advocates criticized the NHS briefing document analysis as being short-sighted considering that Sovaldi has shown to have a nearly 90% cure rate.
Just like state Medicaid providers in the United States, UK health agencies are grappling with the high price of Sovaldi. The treatment is even more expensive once you incorporate the cost of ribavarin, although Gilead soon plans to release an updated combo therapy using Sovaldi plus ledipasvir that eliminates the need for concurrent treatment with ribavarin and interferon.
The NHS officials pointed out that Sovaldi could suck up as much as 1% of the entire NHS budget and 12% of the medicines budget at a time when the British government has been slashing the agency's funding overall and drug funding in particular, and that savings from curing hepatitis C patients would not be realized for years (or even decades).
But some doctors and patient advocates criticized the logic, highlighting the breakthrough curative potential of Sovaldi. The president of Hepatitis C Trust, Charles Gore, wondered if affordability is only a concern in this case due to the typically disadvantaged populations that are afflicted with hep C. One thing is certain: Gilead and patient advocates will unite to fight any NHS efforts not to fund Sovaldi.
- Pharmafile Sovaldi ‘unaffordable’ says NHS documents
- BioPharma Dive UK's NICE gives Gilead's Sovaldi a qualified 'yes'
- BioPharma Dive Another perspective on Sovaldi: Spend more now, save much more later