US state Louisiana selects Gilead's Asegua to supply hepatitis C drug under subscription model

Louisiana's Department of Health and Department of Corrections said that Gilead Sciences' newly created Asegua Therapeutics unit will be awarded a contract to provide hepatitis C treatments for state Medicaid recipients and incarcerated patients under a subscription treatment plan. Under the model, the state will be granted unrestricted access to the authorised generic version of Epclusa (sofosbuvir/velpatasvir) for the covered populations over the next five years for a flat fee. 

Louisiana Health Secretary Rebekah Gee said the sate "has reached a significant milestone toward establishing the nation’s first subscription model for hepatitis C treatment", adding "the next step is to complete the contract between Asegua and our agency," continuing "the plan submitted by Asegua [offered] us a clear path forward to offer a hepatitis C cure to our most vulnerable patients."  

Gee indicated that a contract is expected to be in place by June 1, with the state planning to launch the subscription model under its hepatitis C elimination plan the following month. The state currently spends about $35 million on hepatitis C treatment annually, while it has estimated that it would cost $760 million to treat all patients under the traditional per-patient model.  

The news follows a report in January that Louisiana was planning to adopt a subscription-style model to cover hepatitis C treatments in an effort to treat 10 000 people by 2020. The state's Department of Health later disclosed that Gilead, AbbVie and Merck & Co. expressed interest in the plan. 

"We are excited that Asegua has been selected to partner with the Department of Health and look forward to working on an agreement for this groundbreaking subscription model to increase access to a cure for people living with hepatitis C in Louisiana," commented Asegua representative Gregg Alton, adding "this is an important step forward on the path to eliminating the virus in Louisiana."  

Epclusa was authorised by the FDA in 2016 for the treatment of adults with genotype 1-6 hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, while Gilead announced plans last September to introduce an authorised generic version of the treatment (for related analysis, see ViewPoints: Gilead plays both sides in latest HCV pricing gamble.)

Sales of Epclusa totalled $453 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, down from $565 million in the prior-year period.

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