[Reuters] Study shows downward trend in Sovaldi utilization

Over the last several months there has been a ‘plateau and downward trend’ in the use of Gilead Sciences Inc’s controversial $1,000-a-pill hepatitis C treatment, Sovaldi, a CVS Health Corp analysis showed.

The study, encompassing data from May through August 2014, suggests that another surge of patients will begin therapy when newer treatments of similar effectiveness and shorter duration are introduced later in the year.

U.S. health regulators are due to decide by Oct. 10 whether to approve a new treatment, a pill that combines Sovaldi with the experimental therapy ledipasvir and eliminates the need for other treatments.

The research revealed Sovaldi therapy discontinuation rates of 8.1 percent, approximately four times higher than those in trials, CVS said on Wednesday.

Patients who were completely new to Hepatitis C treatment were also more likely to discontinue therapy, the study found.

The CVS Health Research Institute analyzed discontinuation rates for nearly 2,000 patients who filled prescriptions for Sovaldi since December. The patients were managed by CVS Caremark, the CVS Health pharmacy benefit management business.

Hepatitis C kills more than 15,000 Americans each year, mostly from illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.