[Ip-health] EU pushback on Sovaldi pricing

Ruth Lopert ruth.lopert at gmail.com
Fri Jul 11 19:18:08 PDT 2014


*EU nations join forces against 'exorbitant' hepatitis C drugTHURSDAY JUL
10, 2014  |  AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE France said Thursday it has joined forces
with 13 other European countries to negotiate a lower price for a promising
new hepatitis C drug that has drawn controversy for its astronomical
cost.Sovaldi, made by US pharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences, has shown
huge potential at helping cure the liver disease but its price -- more than
50,000 euros ($68,000) for a 12-week course of treatment -- has health
authorities concerned. "If we accept such a high price, firstly we won't be
able to treat everyone and we will also be creating a risk for our social
security system, which means for other patients," French Health Minister
Marisol Touraine said Thursday. She told BFMTV that Sovaldi would cost the
country's already heavily-indebted welfare system billions of euros."So I
launched an initiative... to mobilise all European countries and make sure
we join forces to weigh on price negotiations with this US laboratory. "For
the first time, 14 European countries have made a commitment together. We
will therefore negotiate country by country as that's how it's done, but we
will exchange information and discuss things between European countries."
Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that can be transmitted through sharing
needles, receiving contaminated blood transfusions or having sex with an
infected person.Some 350,000 people die of hepatitis C-related liver
diseases annually, and as many as four million people are newly infected
each year, according to the World Health Organization. Most of the 185
million people infected worldwide do not know they have the disease, with
diagnoses often only discovered after a person develops cirrhosis,
end-stage liver disease or liver cancer.There is no vaccine for the
disease, but Sovaldi, recently approved in the United States and the
European Union, has been shown to cure more than 90 percent of those
treated, up from 50 to 60 percent for the previous generation of drugs.
Results published in January of a clinical trial that involved 211 people
showed that a daily combination of Sovaldi and another drug still in the
experimental phase cured 98 percent of participants.Dozens of medical
associations in France have issued a joint warning over the "exorbitant"
cost of new generation hepatitis C drugs, including Sovaldi. Medecins du
Monde says the cost of treating just over half of France's 230,000
sufferers would amount to the annual budget of Paris' public hospital
network.Egypt, which has the world's highest infection rate of hepatitis C
-- at more than 10 percent of the population, because syringes are
routinely re-used -- has negotiated a 12-week treatment price of just $900
from Gilead. *


Ruth Lopert
LWC Health Pty Ltd
*ruth at lwchealth.org <ruth at lwchealth.org>*
*www.lwchealth.org <http://www.lwchealth.org> / www.lwchealth.eu

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