On the day that Gilead introduced its new $94,500 hepatitis C drug, Harvoni, Gilead Vice President of Investor Relations Patrick O’Brien went into full spin mode, telling Politico (subscription required) that Harvoni is a bargain compared to Gilead’s other hep C drug, the $84,000 Sovaldi. Inexplicably, O’Brien went on to compare total pharmaceutical spending to McDonald’s prices:
O’Brien said drug spending takes up a relatively small percent of overall health spending and suggested the attention to pharmaceutical prices is misplaced. “You and I probably live on a budget,” he said. “I don’t focus on how much I spend at McDonald’s, but how much I spend on bigger ticket things.”
Spending on expensive specialty drugs such as Sovaldi and Harvoni is growing quickly and is expected to ultimately account for approximately $235 billion, or more than 50 percent, of total drug spending by 2018, according to CVS Health. For the millions of Americans forced to shoulder these costs, paying for their medications is hardly comparable to a trip to the Golden Arches.