Dr Samori Swygert: New thousand dollar a pill drug is making companies rich6
By: Dr. Samori Swygert
A while ago, I wrote about the new breakthrough Hepatitis C drug, Solvaldi. Gilead Sciences is the drug manufacturing company that produces Solvaldi. The drug has a cure rate of 9 out of 10. The big issue surrounding Solvaldi is the method and justification of pricing. The drug costs $1000 per pill, and the patient must complete a 12-week regimen. This averages out to approximately $84,000 in costs.
Several groups are proposing the argument of ethics versus economics. It’s understandable because the same medicine in Egypt costs only $11.00 per pill.
The latest report says that Gilead Sciences has generated $5.7 Billion dollars in sales in just the first 6 months of marketing the drug. According to the Financial Times newspaper, only 70,000 prescriptions for the drug have been filled, but there are approximately 3.2 million people infected with Hepatitis C. This infers that there will be record profits to be made if Gilead generated $5.7 billion from only 70,000 patients.
The Financial Times also reported that the stock price of Gilead basically doubled since the release of the new Hepatitis C drug.
There is another angle to look at though. The price definitely seems inflated, but when you breakdown the cost comparison to the conventional Hepatitis C treatment, and combine it with the liver complications from the progression of the disease, the need for liver transplants, and immuno-suppressant medication for life, you get a different perspective.
The previous therapies don’t have the 9 out of 10 cure rate, and many times patients progress into treatment failure. The conventional treatment isn’t cheap either, they run into the ten’s of thousands of dollars. Once a person progresses into complete liver failure and requires a transplant, the average liver transplant will cost approximately $577,000.
So in essence, it seems predatory, but in the long run, you have the highest probability to be permanently cured, and save hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, you still have to ask about the price disparity in Egypt for $11 per pill. It’s reported that this is the highest earnings ever made by a drug manufacturer in history. The company occupies a specific niche, because they’re the only company that has the “cure” and millions of people need it.
What are your thoughts??…
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