If you were to decide how much your life is worth, what price would you give it? I ask because the Food and Drug Administration approved a medication called Sovaldi (#Sovaldi). This prescription drug fights hepatitis C (Hep C), a blood-borne disease that kills more people in the U.S. annually than AIDS. Here is the catch, the price is $84,000 for a 12-week course which is more than what many cancer treatments cost in a year. And guess what the insurance companies said: uh no.
Based on the cost, one would think that the medication would be made of gold. Unfortunately, there is no gold involved in the expensive prescription drug known as Sovaldi. Solvaldi which is also known as the active ingredient of sofosbuvir, is used with other antiviral medicines to treat chronic hepatitis C genotypes 1, 2, 3, or 4 infection in adults. It works by preventing the virus from making copies of itself using our own cells and thus preventing further infection. Remember that price tag, consider this little nugget of information. Sovaldi is a combination therapy drug and is not as effective by itself. So you have a buy a bunch of other drugs to get it to work effectively.
Firstly, the FDA recommends using it with ribavirin for genotypes 2 and 3. Secondly, for genotypes 1 and 4, the recommendation is ledipasvir and peginterferon. Peginterferon is a combination of Interferon and polyethylene glycol. The Interferon portion are proteins used to alert cells that viral attacks are occurring and creates an immune response. The polyethylene glycol helps the Interferon proteins last longer. Ledipasvir is a viral phosphoprotein that plays an important role in viral replication, assembly, and secretion. Keep in mind that a Ledipasvir and sofosbuvir combination is called Harvoni.
The race to cure Hepatitis C was due to so much of the population contracting the disease through blood transfusions. Keep in mind that routine testing of donated blood for hepatitis C began in 1992. The disease can go undetected for years and can eventually lead to cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. In the past, treating hepatitis C was not always successful and involved lengthy treatment with injectable drugs that had significant side effects. By contrast, Sovaldi promises to cure nearly all sufferers with a once-daily pill that has far fewer side effects.
Sofosbuvir side effects are not going to be extensive since it is a relatively new drug. The most common side effects will be based on what was observed during clinical trials. To begin, some of the most common include flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, chills, weakness, fever, rash and diarrhea. The next symptoms observed were headaches, nausea, insomnia, itching, anemia, decreased appetite, joint pain, and irritability.
Additionally, you need to avoid Sovaldi during pregnancy since it can harm a fetus. Women must have a negative pregnancy test before starting treatment. If you are sexually active, men and women using this drug must use 2 forms of birth control while using Sovaldi and for 6 months after treatment has ended. Keep in mind that condoms are just not enough. You need a second form of protection.
The main question to ask is at what price do you put a human life? On the one hand, Gilead said the price is fair because it is a significant improvement from previous treatments. In addition, this treatment is not more expensive than the old treatment over time.If you look at the other side of the argument, seriously $84,000 for 12 weeks. So if you need 24 weeks it is $168,000. There are assistance programs available to help low-income people get the drug at a low-cost. Why is the rest of the population not getting the same price reduction? Consider how many people are affected by Hep C. Its not a small population size. It is quite significant. I am all for recovering development investments but at this current price, it seems a bit excessive.
Do you think the price is justified?