Gilead Sciences agrees Sovaldi discount with Doctors Without Borders: report

Gilead Sciences reached a deal allowing Doctors Without Borders to procure the company's hepatitis C drug Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) at $900 for a 12-week treatment course, significantly below the price of $84 000 in the US, Bloomberg reported Friday. Isabelle Meyer-Andrieux, an adviser at Doctors Without Borders, said the discounted price applies to countries including Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar and India.

The agreement follows an accord reached with Egypt last month that will permit the nation to procure Sovaldi at the same discounted price. Stefan Wiktor, global hepatitis programme leader for the World Health Organization, which recently called for new hepatitis C treatments to be made affordable for all patients, noted that "Egypt's example shows the power of a public health approach and its large scale," adding "one of the reasons they were able to negotiate a lower price is because they have a big programme."

Gilead spokeswoman Amy Flood clarified that the company has only reached a discount agreement at the national level with Egypt, while negotiations are ongoing with other countries. Meyer-Andrieux said although "we are learning a lot from Egypt… A major concern for us is the price for middle-income countries," such as China and Ukraine.

Gilead has faced criticism concerning the price of Sovaldi, which was cleared by the FDA in December last year. Earlier this week, US pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts argued that the price of Gilead's treatment is not sustainable (for related analysis, read ViewPoints: Pharmacy benefit managers threaten to run with Congress' baton on Sovaldi pricing – Is Gilead Sciences a victim of its own success?). Additionally, US lawmakers recently requested that the drugmaker explain how it determined the price of the therapy.

Gregg Alton, executive vice president of corporate and medical affairs at Gilead, explained that the pricing strategy for Sovaldi was modelled after the company's previous experience with HIV treatments, adding the "global pricing model is based on a country’s ability to pay." Alton previously stated that the US price is "fair" because "it's a one-time cost that is your lifetime cost."

For more information on the hepatitis C market, see KOL Insight: Hepatitis C: Game changing regimens to revolutionise treatment landscape.

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