March 24, 2014
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Congressional committee questions price of company’s HCV drug

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Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce have asked Gilead Sciences Inc. to explain the price for Sovaldi, the company’s recently approved drug to treat hepatitis C virus.

Sovaldi was approved by the FDA in December 2013 to treat adults with chronic hepatitis C infection (HCV).

A letter addressed to Dr. John C. Martin, PhD, chief executive officer of Gilead Sciences Inc., from committee ranking members Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Diana DeGette, (D-Colo.) questions the company’s approach to pricing for the new drug.

“Our concern is that a treatment will not cure patients if they cannot afford it,” the letter said. “These costs are likely to be too high for many patients, both those with public insurance and those with private insurance.”

According to the letter, Gilead intends to sell Sovaldi at $84,000 per treatment and committee members are requesting that Martin explain the pricing tactics behind the newly-approved drug including; the methodology used by Gilead to establish pricing; the extent to which Gilead is providing discounts to low-income patients and to key government or private-sector purchasers of the drug; the value to the company of the expedited review provided under the FDA’s Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapy designation and how any savings are factored into pricing decisions for the drug; and the public health impact of insurers’ and public health programs’ decisions not to cover Sovaldi for all patients with HCV.

Committee members requested that Martin respond no later than April 3, 2014.