$1,000-A-Pill Sovaldi: Salvation Or Rip-Off?

    June 18, 2014
    Toni Matthews-El
    Comments are off for this post.

Whoever said there is no money to be made in curing the sick has never heard of Sovaldi. The drug boasts the ability to cure Hepatitis-C in 9 out of every 10 patients who use it.

But it’s a cure that is outside of the price range of many people.

Each pill you take in an effort to potentially save your life will cost you upwards of $1,000!

Needless to say that in this economy, not too many people have thousands of dollars just lying around. Especially if they are presently sick and stuck trying to pay various medical expenses.

Insurance companies? State Medicaid programs?

Well, imagine them as unconscious after having fainted at the hefty price tag. Even if Sovaldi justifies its $90,000 treatment cost with the word “cure”, it seems to too expensive for those first tasked with covering the cost.

No matter how desperate low income patients may be for Sovaldi, it’s likely they’ll simply never get a hold of the pricey “miracle” pills.

This is especially unfortunate since studies show that even if Sovaldi weren’t available, these organizations and businesses would still be shelling out a load of cash to cover medical expenses for Hepatitis-C patients.

It’s likely that rationing will occur. Special circumstances will require very specific patients be awarded the opportunity to use Sovaldi. Expect lots of hoop-jumping, red tape, and “technicalities”.

We’re perhaps seeing the reality of what a cure actually means in the 21st century: There’s more money in curing people than treating them. That is, if they can afford either option.

Things are going swimmingly for Gilead Sciences, Inc., the drug maker responsible for putting Sovaldi on the market. The company reported earnings of $2.3 billion within the first three months of 2014.

Despite the high cost, vice president Gregg Alton insists that it is in fact “a real huge value” and a virtual bargain for anyone who can afford to buy it.

For everyone else it’s business as usual.

Do YOU think $1,000-a-pill is too much to pay for a life-saving cure? Comment below!

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  • smithsson

    I’ve read this article twice and saw another better written article about the same subject earlier today. I must say, the wording of “Rip-Off” is quite strongly worded title, and is more incendiary than helpful or informative.

    While I agree the drug price seems quite high. Some experts quoted in other articles state a $1 cost with a $1,000 price tag. [via google, via reddit, via npr, dec 13, 2013]

    A more balanced and insightful picture is that of the 2 million people being treated, 17,000 people right now are waiting for an even more expensive liver transplant. Cursory search via the web shows a total cost of $577,000 for a liver transplant; treatments for acute and severe cases of Hepatitis C costs $300,000. Both treatments have severe side effects which are sometimes lifetime side effects. [via npr] Compare that to the 12-24 week treatment via Sovaldi which will run in the range of $84,000 to $168,000. [via wikipedia]

    Also, sources from yahoo news and wall street journal states probable drug alternatives may hit the market in 2015. This introduced alternative will likely force a price reduction given the size of the global market as well as governmental import and drug regulations.

    Getting back to the point, the description of a “Rip-off” in the title sounds more like an emotionally charged response than an insightfully balanced, responsible and informative reporting. More facts, more perspectives, better reporting.