Gilead, sofosbuvir, and hepatitis C . . . We’re reading about the high cost of living

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NewWWRThe Treatment Action Group’s 2014 Pipeline Report released in conjunction with the 20th International AIDS Conference last week devotes three sections to the outlook for better and more accessible treatment for hepatitis C, examining the promise of new direct acting antiviral treatments, starting with sofosbuvir (marketed by Gilead pharmaceutical company as Sovaldi) being eclipsed by outrage over the high cost of the new drug, evidence leading to new treatments on the horizon, and the role of activism in raising awareness of the disease and of the need for national treatment programs, as well as in drawing attention to the need for affordable, accessible, improved treatments.

The big business of Hepatitis C and HIV – One of the ways that activists accomplished the latter last week was by presenting Gilead pharmaceutical company Vice President Gregg Alton with a cows liver on a silver platter, and by surrounding the posh, high-profile Gilead display in the exhibition hall at the AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia while shouting: “Pills cost pennies, greed costs lives.” This piece from HIVEqual.com, examines the issues behind the protest, including the company’s history of high prices as well as unrelinquished patents on HIV drugs and the payoff of that the resulting “long-term, forced customer loyalty,” generates, and questions about the reasons for the high price of sofosbuvir, the company’s effective new treatment for hepatitis C that costs as much as $84,000 for a round of treatment in the U.S., and an equally unaffordable $2000 in low-income countries. Activists’ protests at the AIDS Conference also were covered on INPUD’s International Diaries along with an exploration of “Myths and Facts about Gilead’s Sofosbuvir Pricing.”

A cure for hepatitis C – This Macleans article examines the impact of the high price of new drugs Galexos and Sovaldi on an ailing 66-year-old Canadian woman, for who the treatments that could allow her to return to health, remain out of reach. Why? “Giving every hepatitis C-positive Canadian that treatment would cost an estimated $14 billion.”

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