MSF: Sovaldi profit protection measures squeeze out patients in poor nations
- Doctors Without Borders (formally named Medecins Sans Frontieres) has stated that, in its efforts to stop discounted Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) from being diverted to rich countries, Gilead has inadvertently hurt hepatitis C-infected people in poor countries.
- According to this humanitarian group, Gilead's actions have resulted in multiple restrictions, such as excluding people without national identity documents, which hurt the poorest of the poor.
- Gilead has been widely criticized for pricing its breakthrough hepatitis C treatment at $1,000-per-pill, but offset some of that criticism by providing majorly discounted Sovaldi in developing and relatively poor countries.
Even as Gilead moves forward with its plan to work with 11 generic manufacturers, which are producing lower-priced Sovaldi for 91 developing nations, Doctors Without Borders is urging the companies to reject the program that Gilead is proposing, because they say it keeps people in developed and middle-income countries from accessing the drug at affordable prices and pushes them to purchase a much-needed medication at an exorbitant price.
While it's not clear whether or not the manufacturers will respond to the group's suggestions, everyone is aware that Sovaldi raked in more than $10 billion during its first full year of sales. In addition, most of the 150 million people in the world who are infected with hepatitis C live in low- and middle-income countries.
Gilead will be sure to point to a recent analysis finding that its pricey specialty hep C drugs are actually cost-effective over long run compared with dealing with the adverse consequences of hepatitis C and liver disease.