Sovaldi: $1,000-A-Pill Wonder Drug Cures Hepatitis C, Burdens Medicaid
Sovaldi is a new pill that cures hepatitis C in 9 out of 10 patients, studies say, but the treatment costs $90,000.
Hepatitis C affects the liver, and medical societies suggest Sovaldi to be taken as a first-line treatment for the disease. However, Medicaid programs and insurance companies are saying that the treatment costs too much.
Each pill of Sovaldi costs $1,000, and some states are already having budgetary issues. The price of the treatment is hitting Medicaid programs hard, as many patients who are in need of the treatment have low incomes, with most of them needing government insurance aid.
Sovaldi: Hard Pill To Swallow
However, if the pill did not exist, patients would still be turning to other treatments, which cost up to five figures to treat hepatitis C. These alternative treatments have more side effects and are less effective than Sovaldi.
Sources indicate that over three million Americans are affected with hepatitis C. It is a health concern, since it can be transmitted through sexual contact or blood. Health authorities are advising people to be tested.
Stuart Rose, a hepatitis C patient from New York, said, “If it’s going to get me the medicine, I’ll put my hand out there with a tin cup.” Rose’s insurance only pays $4,000 annually for his medications, but he was able get hold of Sovaldi with the help of charitable foundations.
The high cost of Sovaldi surprised Medicaid programs and some are considering restricting treatment to patients who are the sickest. Other states are also thinking about a separate financing plan for Sovaldi.
Sovaldi is to be taken once a day for 12 weeks. It reduces the length of interferon treatment, which makes it more tolerable for hepatitis c patients. Gilead Sciences, Inc., maker of Sovaldi, has also developed a new hepatitis C treatment that does not require the use of interferon. The pill is nearing approval, but the price has yet to be disclosed.
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