A super drug — at a super price

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Sovaldi[/b], a new drug to treat hepatitis C and approved by the [b]US Food and Drug Administration[/b] in December, is a big advance, writes [s]The New York Times[/s]. When taken with one or two older drugs, Sovaldi can cure more than 80% of cases of hepatitis C in as little as 12 weeks – a higher cure rate with shorter treatment duration and fewer side effects than was previously possible.

But the $84,000 price for a 12-week course of treatment, or $1,000 a daily pill, as caused rising concern among insurers and [b]Medicaid[/b] programmes in the US. Three to four million Americans are estimated to be infected with the hepatitis C virus and over decades, infection can cause cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

[s]Reuters[/s] reports that the controversy was fanned further by the developer, [b]Gilead Sciences[/b], agreeing to supply the medicine to Egypt at a 99% discount to the US price. Egypt, has the highest prevalence rate of hepatitis C in the world. The [b]World Health Organisation[/b] estimates that more than 150m worldwide are chronically infected, most of them in developing countries.

Full The New York Times report

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