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This issue of Vital Signs, released on March 31, 2014, discusses the premium price tag of Gilead's Sovaldi, Sony's genomic partnership with Illumina, and Craig Venter’s latest venture, Human Longevity, Inc.
A panel of experts convened in San Francisco, Calif., to discuss the cost-effectiveness of Sovaldi, Gilead’s breakthrough therapy for the chronic hepatitis C infection (CHC). Sovaldi has been priced at $1,000 per pill, translating to a total cost of $84,000 for a 12-week treatment course. Some patients with a tougher-to-treat viral strain will need a 24-week course, with a price tag of $168,000. The expert panel concluded that, although this new drug is an important breakthrough in the treatment of CHC, the benefit does not outweigh the cost for all patients, nor would the healthcare system be able to support coverage for all CHC patients. Thus, many managed care organizations may need to restrict this drug to only the sickest patients who have tried and failed cheaper standard therapies.
The Analyst’s Perspective by Debbie Toscano, Senior Industry Analyst, Life Sciences
Development of better antiviral drugs to fight CHC is one of the most competitive areas in the pharmaceutical industry. The need for better treatments is high due to the growing number of infected people developing liver damage as the population ages, modest cure rate of available treatments, and no preventative vaccine for this highly transmissible virus. Since most people infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are not aware that they are infected or even at risk of infection, the US Preventive Services Task Force has recently recommended that all people born between 1945 and 1956 receive a one-time screening, an action with the potential to increase the treatable population even more.
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