[The Morning Consult] The Gilead Effect

Oct 14, 2014

Perhaps no company has done as much as Gilead to propel the issue of high drug prices onto center stage or to lay bare the pharmaceutical industry’s approach to pricing new drugs.  While concern over the ever-rising costs of specialty pharmaceuticals has been building it took Gilead and the pricing of their Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, to rivet the attention of policymakers, payers, and patients.

One might wonder what all the uproar is about.  After all, Sovaldi is hardly the first drug to cost tens of thousands of dollars and far from the most expensive.  However, what sets Sovaldi apart is the fact that it is an exceptionally high-priced drug intended not for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Americans – but millions.

Most estimates place the number of people currently infected with Hepatitis C at between three and five million, though some experts argue the number might be much higher.  Whatever the number – three, five, or even ten million – the reality is that the costs imposed on the system by Sovaldi – and by its follow on product launched this past week, Harvoni, are substantial.

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