[Politico] Wyden, Grassley want answers on Sovaldi

By: Brett Norman

A bipartisan pair of senators is asking the pharmaceutical company that makes a hepatitis C “miracle drug” to justify its $84,000 per treatment price tag.

“It is unclear how Gilead set the price for Sovaldi,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley write in a letter today to Gilead. “That price appears to be higher than expected given the costs of development and production and the steep discounts offered in other countries. An efficient market needs informed consumers to keep costs down.”

Insurers and other health care industry interests have been sounding the alarm over the treatment, which threatens to dramatically drive up U.S. drug spending given the more than 3 million Americans estimated to have hepatitis C. State and federal lawmakers also are concerned about the drug’s potential impact on Medicare, Medicaid and health care costs for prison inmates.

The senators’ letter says that Sovaldi’s developer — Pharmasset, which Gilead acquired –expected to make a profit selling the drug for $36,000 per treatment. Wyden and Grassley ask for an explanation of the mark up within 60 days.

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