Lawmakers Question Why Sovaldi Costs $1k a Pill

Two high-ranking senators have sent a letter to Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead Sciences demanding answers regarding the $1,000 a pill price tag for hepatitis C drug Sovaldi.

The typical 12-week drug regimen of Sovaldi costs $84,000, but some patients require the drug for a longer period of time. Guidelines also suggest taking the drug along with others, adding to the overall care costs.

Sovaldi has a success rate of more than 90 percent, and Gilead has said its effectiveness warrants the high price tag. However, lawmakers want more information.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee's ranking member, sent the letter seeking justification from Gilead for Sovaldi's hefty price tag.

"Given the impact Sovaldi's cost will have on Medicare, Medicaid and other federal spending, we need a better understanding of how your company arrived at the price for this drug," the Senators wrote in the letter.

Sovaldi is the best treatment for hepatitis C currently available on the market to treat the 3.2 million people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with the disease, and critics have said Gilead is exploiting the fact that there is no better treatment available, according to a report from The Hill.  

It is estimated Solvaldi could see between $5 billion and $9 billion in sales during its first year on the market, one of the largest sales for a new drug's first year.

"The large patient population combined with the high price of each individual treatment creates a question as to whether payors of healthcare, including Medicare and Medicaid, can carry such a load," said Sens. Wyden and Grassley in the letter.

Sovaldi's price tag is affecting private health insurers as well. UnitedHealth Group spent $100 million — significantly more than expected — on hepatitis C drugs during the first quarter of this year, and Sovaldi drove the high spending.

More Articles on Sovaldi:

FDA Approves Second Drug in Two Weeks to Treat Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C Drug Costs More Than 1K a Pill  
Sovaldi Drug Sales Could Reach $9B in First Year 

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