An effective, high-priced drug has governments, health insurers, consumers and ultimately taxpayers between a rock and a hard place. It could be a harbinger of things to come — including more medical breakthroughs and new policies to help pay for them.
The success of Sovaldi is good news for people with hepatitis C and stockholders of Gilead Sciences, the Foster City-based biopharmaceutical company that makes the drug. But the cost — $1,000 per pill, $84,000 for a full course of treatment — could be a deal breaker. Or perhaps a deal changer.
So far, the deal in this country has been that drug makers can charge whatever the market will bear. Sovaldi may be a canary in the coal mine of drug policy. Government officials, insurance companies and consumers in many countries are grappling with the problem.