France Strikes Deal For Gilead Sciences, Inc.'s Hep C Drug Sovaldi

Published: Nov 21, 2014

France Strikes Deal For Gilead's Hep C Drug Sovaldi

November 21, 2014

By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Editor

French consumers will receive Gilead Sciences, Inc. ’s expensive new hepatitis C pill Sovaldi at a steep discount, for 41,000 euros ($51,373) for a full three month course instead of 56,000 euros, making it "the lowest price in Europe", the French Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Sovaldi has been controversial worldwide for its high price tag. A 12-week course in America costs around $84,000, or about $1,000 per pill—a steep price to pay for large companies that like the drug’s 90 percent cure rate but not its massive cost to taxpayers who fund public programs like Medicaid and prison healthcare systems.

The Economic Committee for Health Products (CEPS) said the lower cost will greatly benefit the 200,000 patients in France who have hepatitis C, on whom the country spends an average 800 million euros annually treating.

“Fixing the price closes the period of temporary authorization for use (ATU), which allowed early patient access to this drug,” said the agency in a statement. “The laboratory shall reimburse the health insurance the difference between the price charged during this period and the price that has to be fixed. In addition, the Bill Financing Social Security for 2015 introduces a regulatory mechanism to support the laboratory-exceeded spending on treatment, when they exceed a certain amount.”

Sovaldi has faced a stiff uphill battle from European regulators, who usually assess drug price as a major factor for inclusion in health programs subsidized by the state. British authorities at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has given a provisional nod to Sovaldi but only for specifically eligible Hepatitis C patients, because treating all hepatitis C patients would be too expensive at the drug’s current cost.

Nevertheless, Sovaldi has seen a blockbuster year so far, with analysts estimating it has raked in $10 billion in sales so far in 2014.

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