WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A movement opposing runaway drug pricing, particularly Gilead Sciences’ pricing of its new Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), which it priced at $84,000 for a twelve-week course of treatment—or $1,000 per pill—picked up steam last week with the news that Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits manager which handles drug reimbursement for a big chunk of the U.S. private insurance market, says it's forming a coalition to refuse to use Sovaldi after a competitor hits the market. According to Bloomberg News (as reported on the FiercePharma.com website), “The $84,000 drug is simply too expensive for payers to bear, Express Scripts CMO Steven Miller told the news service.”
"What they have done with this particular drug will break the country," Miller said (as quoted by Bloomberg). "It will make pharmacy benefits no longer sustainable. Companies just aren't going to be able to handle paying for this drug."
In mid-March, Public outcry and numerous news reports about the high price of the new drug led Congressmembers Henry A. Waxman (D, CA), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D, NJ), and Diana DeGette (D, CO), Ranking Members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, to write to Gilead CEO John Martin “…requesting a briefing from Gilead Sciences to answer important questions about the pricing of the company’s recently approved Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi.”
In January, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) President Michael Weinstein sent a series of letters to state Medicaid directors asking them to block Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) from inclusion on their respective state Medicaid and other drug formularies. The drug was approved by the F.D.A. on December 6, 2013 and Gilead immediately announced that it would price the drug at $84,000 for a twelve-week course of treatment, making it one of the most expensive drugs ever marketed. Suggested treatment guidelines also require that Sovaldi be used with another drug, ribavirin (a nucleoside inhibitor), further adding to the cost of the prohibitively expensive course of treatment.
“An anti-Gilead drug pricing campaign is clearly gaining momentum and picking up steam with both government and business officials showing considerable interest in Gilead’s pricing of Sovaldi,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “At $1,000 a pill, pharmacy industry sources say the price of Sovaldi suggests a retail markup of 279,000% over production costs—which is outrageous—and as Mr. Miller says, is simply too expensive for payers to bear.”
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 300,000 individuals in 32 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.