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The Hepatitis C Cure Poised to "Break the Country"

Gilead's (NASDAQ: GILD  ) Sovaldi is reportedly flying off the shelves, but bad press due to pushback from payers, members of Congress, and even the WHO continues to roll in. At issue is the high price of Sovaldi in the U.S. -- $84,000 for a full course of treatment (or roughly $1,000 per day).

As reported by Reuters, Gilead is in talks with Indian generic manufacturers, including perhaps Mylan's  (NASDAQ: MYL  )  Indian subsidiary, to offer Sovaldi at a discount in some international markets, as the U.S. list price is unworkable in a lot of the developing world. Of course, many U.S. payers, including Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX  ) would argue (and have argued) that the list price is unworkable here too.

The latest bad press comes from Express Scripts, whose CMO Steven Miller stated in no uncertain terms that "What [Gilead's management] have done with this particular drug will break the country." Express Scripts is looking to convince a group of its clients to agree not to use Sovaldi once a competitor drug (expected from AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV  ) in early 2015) comes on the market. Could this trigger a price war between Gilead and AbbVie, especially once other potential competitors come to market?

In this segment from Tuesday's Market Checkup, Motley Fool health care analysts David Williamson and Michael Douglass discuss these developments and consider whether a price war is on the horizon.

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Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (4)

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  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2014, at 3:35 PM, rocket625 wrote:

    every single thing these companies come out with, you just run the most negative story about. this is the 1st drug to kill a virus and your story is "it will break the country" - you guys are something else.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 11:40 AM, Nala wrote:

    Why not publish "Breaking News"? Why is it that the news and video clip is about sensationalism and stale data?.

    Focus on the huge impact of improving the quality of life and mankind overall this breakthrough drug is accomplishing.

    Try not to be shortsighted and limiting in your discussion articles.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 6:47 PM, EPS100Momentum wrote:

    Don't want to bust up your story but they won't break America, Majority now have insurance. It is the insurance companies that will pay up.

    Also please do full dd because you didn't even mention Merck's drug which also has 98% cure rate and may prove the best drug for Hep C.


    Bristol Meyers Squibb Hep C drug.

    Why do an article on Hep C if your not going to mention all the players in this game or is it that you just want a bear attack on GILD shares?

    Very unprofessional article to say the least.

    Especially considering that these companies have paid upfront billions in R&D to come up with a treatment. When they succeed you don't want them to recoup their initial investment? That kind of mentality can lead to regression in R&D and bad for future cures.

    Its like hiring a repair man but only wanting to pay for cost of materials and not the labor involved.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 12:58 AM, hawaii wrote:

    You mentioned insurance companies would foot the bill? Well I have stage 3 Hepititus-C,with liver damage.I'm insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield. For your information they denied PAYING for Savaldi treatment.12 wk. treatment $84,000 verses $900 in india. This is not only inhumane,but leaves me in a bind,not able to afford the $84,000 price tag.It's called GREED all around.Who suffers the little man that is denied by his insurance company & left to DIE because I can't afford tobe treated.It makes me sick to my stomach to admit I'm an American with all the GREED that goes on in AMERICA.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 1:09 AM, AlexanderAkhavan wrote:

    Just a thought. Why not go to India and get treated there?

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 6:19 PM, badeconomy wrote:

    Hawaii: you are right you should be able to get the right treatment, the problem is not the price of the cure and it should not be. The problem is that here you can not get the right treatment for anything if you do not have the right insurance and even then insurance companies try to deny coverage and let people simply die. They have been getting away with it since their managed care"con" creation of HMO and so on…. If you have prescription drug insurance with blue cross, the insurance company can not by law refuse to pay for Sovaldi if prescribed by specialist( confirmation by second opinion), unless there is another effective alternative or generic version of the same drug, its all in your policy but of course you need a lawyer to figure it out . The whole campaign regarding Sovaldi cost has been funded and coordinated by insurance companies. Insurence companies are completely aware of the fact that financially and legally it is their benefit to pay for Sovaldi but as usual they are trying to shame Gilead to reduce the price up front so they can pocket more profit. The insurance companies are the ones that are "breaking the country,one state,one city,one community,one family and one individual at a time". We should not blame and shame innovation for creating cure for any disease specialty life or death disease like hepatitis C, we have to take away the power from insurance companies to manipulate the whole society for their "GREED". Hawaii : I wish you the very best and I hope you find a way to get well.

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Michael Douglass

As the Motley Fool's Health Care Editor/Analyst, I focus on all things health care -- although my greatest interest is in the megatrends reshaping the American health care system, including the Affordable Care Act, Accountable Care Organizations, a shifting regulatory landscape, and the new drug discoveries fundamentally changing disease management and treatment.

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