Sovaldi’s Price Tag Drawing Senator Scorn
The price of Gilead’s hepatitis C drug Sovaldi once again is drawing bipartisan fire on Capitol Hill, this time from two senators who are demanding answers as to how the company arrived at the product’s $1,000-a-pill price tag.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa.) sent a letter to Gilead last week asking the company to answer a slew of questions justifying its pricing on Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), which costs $84,000 for a full treatment.
Grassley and Wyden directly challenged the U.S. cost, noting that an entire treatment course of Sovaldi costs as low as $900 in Egypt, a 99 percent discount off the domestic price.
The two senators are seeking financial details of Gilead’s 2011 acquisition of Pharmasset for $11 billion, which gave the California drugmaker the rights to Sovaldi. They also want to know what Gilead spent on research and development for Sovaldi, and the company’s estimates for what it costs to produce the drugs per patient.
The Senators request the company start responding to the multiple requests by July 25.
Wyden and Grassley aren’t the only lawmakers to raise suspicions about Sovaldi’s high cost.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) told a July 11 American Enterprise Institute panel on drug development that manufacturers and payers need to fix the pricing issue or “we’ll figure something out,” an unusually direct statement from a Republican lawmaker to industry.
“It could be something as devastating as we’ll just tell you what you can charge, in which case, the possibility of recouping the development side of the equation is going to be much harder,” said Burgess, vice chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.
Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Diana Degette (D-Colo.) also sent Gilead a letter earlier this year asking the drugmaker to justify the high price tag.
Sovaldi, which launched in December 2013, was hailed as a breakthrough by being the only approved interferon-free treatment of hepatitis C genotype 1, which is the most prevalent form of the disease in the U.S. — Robert King
Originally appeared in Drug Industry Daily, the pharmaceutical industry’s number one source for regulatory news and information. Click here for more information.