KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

$1,000-A-Pill Hepatitis C Drug Boosts Gilead’s Fortunes

Sales of the new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi reached $3.5 billion in the second quarter, putting it on track to become one of the world's best-selling medicines and intensifying concerns about its costs. Two advocacy groups and a Democratic lawmaker demanded that Medicare be able to negotiate with Gilead and other drugmakers to bring down such costs.

The New York Times: Gilead Reports Strong Sales of Sovaldi, Putting It On Pace to Become A Blockbuster 
Sales of the new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi reached $3.5 billion in the second quarter, a huge figure that puts it on track to become one of the world’s best-selling medicines but could intensify concerns about society’s ability to pay for it. The sales, announced on Wednesday by Gilead Sciences, were an increase from the $2.3 billion in the first three months of the year, the first full quarter of sales since the drug’s approval in December (Pollack, 7/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Hepatitis C Pill Rockets Gilead Into Big Leagues
For decades, a liver disease that would slowly kill the infected person didn't even have a name, let alone an effective medicine. Now, a new pill promising to cure most cases of the disease, eventually called hepatitis C, is believed to be the biggest new drug launch ever, catapulting maker Gilead Sciences Inc. 13% into the ranks of the top-selling pharmaceutical companies (Rockoff, 7/23).

Bloomberg: Patient Cures Spur Demand For $1,000 Hepatitis C Pill
The powerful new hepatitis C drug that sent Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD)’s sales soaring last quarter is doing the same for the hopes of millions of patients. Sandra Cabrera and Ted Tabor both suffered devastating damage from hepatitis C. After just weeks of taking Gilead’s Sovaldi, they feel much better and tests suggest the lethal virus is disappearing from their blood (Bennett and Langreth, 7/24).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Advocacy Groups Say Medicare Should Negotiate With Drugmakers
Expensive new blockbuster drugs, such as a $1,000-a-pill hepatitis C treatment called Sovaldi, highlight the need to do something soon, the California Democrat said, backing recommendations made in a report released Wednesday by two advocacy groups, the Medicare Rights Center and Social Security Works (Appleby, 7/24).

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