April 9, 2014
This article was reported by SFGate.
SFGate reported that a pharmacy benefit management company is attempting to force Gilead Sciences to reduce the price of Sovaldi, its $1,000-a-pill Hepatitis C treatment. Express Scripts Holding Co., which manages more than 1 billion U.S. prescriptions each year, is forming a coalition, comprised of national employers, health insurance plans, and government agencies, that will stop using Sovaldi after a competing drug is granted approval, possibly next year.
"What they have done with this particular drug will break the country," said Steven Miller, chief medical officer at Express Scripts. "It will make pharmacy benefits no longer sustainable. Companies just aren't going to be able to handle paying for this drug." The company has said it will prevent reimbursement for Sovaldi, which totals $84,000 for the 12-week treatment, once a new drug is available. Express Scripts' goal is to make Gilead choose a lower price with long-term use over keeping the price high with a limited life span.
Gilead has defended Sovaldi's price by asserting that it would pay for itself by curing Hepatitis C and preventing costly health complications. Sovaldi has been touted as a breakthrough drug because it has a higher cure rate with significantly less side effects. Gilead's shares, which had gained 52 percent in the past year, recently fell 3.07 percent.
Analysts assert that if Sovaldi was used to treat every American with Hepatits C the cost would top $300 billion, which is more than the combined cost of all prescription drugs purchased in the U.S. Specialty drugs comprise 28 percent of prescription sales in the U.S., while accounting for less than one percent of all prescriptions written.
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