Contributor Health FORBES
I cover news on drugs and R&D in the pharma industry
When the breakthrough medications to cure hepatitis C were launched back in 2014 and 2015, the companies that launched the first drugs, Gilead and AbbVie weren’t praised for this major scientific advance. Rather, they were vilified for their high list prices. The headlines heralding the first of these drugs, Sovaldi, focused on the “$1,000 pill” which referenced the dosing regimen of one pill per day for 12 weeks costing $84,000. Forget the fact that hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure leading to the need for a transplant, and liver cancer. Forget that previous treatments were minimally effective, caused people to have flu-like symptoms for the 12 month course of therapy and cost in excess of $100,000. Forget that many of these patients end up needing a liver transplant which costs in excess of $300,000. The focus was on price as evidenced by comments made at that time by the President of America’s Health Insurance Plans: “The company in this case is asking for a blank check which, if granted, will blow up employer benefit costs….and wreak havoc on the federal debt.”
Well, the federal debt wasn’t overwhelmed by the cost of curing hepatitis C. In fact, thanks to competition resulting from multiple drugs being launched, within a year, the prices for these drugs in the U.S. dropped to less than $50,000 – cheaper than what was being paid in the U.K. and Germany whose governments negotiate prices directly with manufacturers for drugs. As a result, outrage over the cost of hepatitis C curing drugs largely evaporated. More noteworthy was that the World Health Organization began developing guidelines to eradicate hepatitis C by 2030 thanks to the availability of these drugs.
TO CONTINUE READING: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnlamattina/2021/07/12/another-covid-19-calamity--more-deaths-due-to-hepatitis-c-infections/?sh=1b97b275644a