An 18-month investigation by the Senate Finance Committee into the cost of Gilead Sciences’ groundbreaking Hepatitis C treatments Sovaldi and Harvoni found that the drugmaker had put maximizing revenues ahead of patient access.
What’s the problem?
December 1, 2015 – The Senate report determined that state Medicaid programs spent $1.3 billion before rebates last year on Sovaldi and Harvoni to treat less than 2.4% of enrollees with Hepatitis C. Most of the 700,000+ patients with the liver disease on state Medicaid programs are still waiting for treatment, the report found.
“It was always Gilead’s plan to maximize revenue, and affordability and accessibility was an afterthought,” Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said in announcing the findings.
Wyden went on to say that the astronomical price of Sovaldi ($84,000 per treatment course) and Harvoni ($94,500 per course) failed to justify the cost of research and development, or the $11 billion Gilead paid Pharmasset to acquire the drugs.
While earlier Hep C treatments were also expensive, they were nowhere near the burden on healthcare budgets as patients around the country were denied treatment while waiting for Gilead’s magic pills that promised a cure to their disease.
“If Gilead’s approach to pricing is the future of how blockbuster drugs are launched, it will cost billions and billions of dollars to treat just a fraction of patients,” Wyden said.