The Opposing Thumb

An opinionated digit leafs through the biological literature
Science Policy

Ransoming Your Liver

James Surowiecki gives us a short & sweet look at unbridled market logic applied to drug prices:

“Sovaldi can cure ninety per cent of (Hepatitis C) patients in three to six months, with only minor side effects. There’s just one catch: a single dose of the drug costs a thousand dollars, which means that a full, twelve-week course of treatment comes to more than eighty grand.”

An editorial in the most recent issue of Nature Medicine places the price of this single drug in the wider context of treatment costs for Hepatitis C…

“Notably, these prices do not account for the additional costs of interferon or ribavirin (~$15,000–30,000, depending on the treatment course), pharmacy dispensing fees, tests and doctor visits. Nor do they reflect the estimated manufacturing costs—which do not exceed ~$270 for a 12-week course of treatment (Clin. Infect. Dis. 58, 928–936, 2014).”

… and arrives at the logical conclusion:

“With HCV therapies capable of eradicating the infection, patients should not have to measure the value of their health against the cost of drug treatment. Clearly, more potent advocacy is required to improve both government investment in research and treatment and negotiation of fair pricing strategies with pharmaceutical companies.”



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