Sovaldi, a new hepatitis C treatment, can cure up to 90 percent of patients within three months. There’s just one problem: The drug costs $1,000 a day. That price tag has thrown the biotechnology world into turmoil, as lawmakers and insurance companies complain that Sovaldi’s maker is trying to milk desperate patients.
Doctors are understandably finding it hard to pass over a drug that is so effective. As a result, Sovaldi’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences (GILD), is raking in the dough, while its shares have soared 53 percent over the last year. Sovaldi, in fact, may generate the biggest sales ever for a drug’s first year. It could bring in a jaw-dropping $7 billion to $10 billion in sales this year alone, analysts say.
“The drug is a microcosm of the U.S. healthcare system’s structural problems,” Sadeghi-Nejad adds. “We want big scientific advances, but are not prepared to handle the costs of a drug so effective and tolerable that every patient wants it at once.”