Information & Referral
By Alan M. Schlein
Sovaldi, a new drug, which has been hailed as a breakthrough treatment for the 3.2 million Americans infected with hepatitis C, costs $1,000 a pill. While it is highly effective and has fewer side effects and takes less time than older therapies, it costs $84,000 for a typical patient
But lawmakers want to know why the high U.S. price is much higher than in other countries, as well as previously estimated in the U.S. In a letter sent recently, two U.S. senators, Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Ia., asked Gilead Sciences, the drug’s maker, to provide detailed pricing information on the new drug. Their request coincided with Gilead’s reported record sales of $5.7 billion in the first six months of the year.
Pharmasset, the drug’s original developer, said the price of treatment would be $36,000, the senators wrote, citing documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gilead Sciences acquired Pharmasset in 2012 for $11 billion. Sovaldi sales could hit around $8 billion this year, analysts estimated, which would make it one of the top-selling pharmaceutical drugs worldwide.
“Given the impact Sovaldi’s cost will have on Medicare, Medicaid and other federal spending, we need a better understanding of how your company arrived at the price for this drug,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter noted that Sovaldi is offered at steep discounts in some other countries. For example, it can be up to 99 percent cheaper in Egypt than in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported, and in Europe the cost is about 2/3 the price that it is in the United States.
By Karen White-Walker
If that’s the case, why is he so darn interested in who’s on the phone when it rings? Just like it’s impossible to maintain two separate thoughts in your head at the same time, so too, it’s impossible to be hearing two separate people at the same time when each is not remotely saying the same thing.
“Please don’t talk to me when I’m on the phone,” I’ve begged old stone face. “I get so confused.”
“Why aren’t I surprised? Your whole family is confused,” he’ll grumble.
“They’re only confused when they see us together — when, where, how, why? I feel guilty for leaving my aging parents all those years in limbo with those pressing questions.”
“Guess I had that coming. I shouldn’t down your family,” he confessed.
“Until the next time,” I pouted. “I shouldn’t have said they were confused about us being together, I should have said angry.
“Oh I know all right, and it’s all the same jibber jabber. What do women always yak about? Their kids, weight, hair and husbands.”