Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Treating Hepatitis C -- Is the Price Right?

Treating HCV -- Is the Price Right? 

Published: Feb 18, 2014

New drugs on the horizon hold out the promise of being able to cure up to 90% of people with chronic hepatitis C (HCV). They are also promising to be expensive.
Eyebrows went up recently when Gilead Sciences announced the per-pill price for its new anti-HCV drug sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) would be $1,000. Over a 12-week treatment period, that amounts to $84,000 -- without counting the cost of other medications that would be used with sofosbuvir.
The other recently approved medication -- Janssen's simeprevir (Olysio) -- is being priced at $66,360 for a course of treatment, again without the cost of other medications.
But are those costs out of line for drugs that promise to cure a notoriously refractory illness in eight or nine cases out of 10? Especially when you consider that HCV is widespread, underdiagnosed, and leads in many cases to serious liver disease and death?
Short answer: No one really knows.
"There's a lot of sticker shock in medicine," according to Nancy Reau, MD, of the University of Chicago Medical Center.
But the price tag has to be weighed against the benefit, she and colleague Don Jensen, MD (also at Chicago) argued in a recent article in Hepatology that tried to parse the issue.
In the case of HCV, that's not a simple matter.....

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