Feb 5 Gilead Sciences plans to license
its breakthrough hepatitis C drug Sovaldi to a number of Indian
generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, allowing for lower-priced
sales of the medication in that developing nation, according to
Although prices for the drug have not been set, company
spokesman Nick Francis said in an emailed statement on Wednesday
that Gilead aims to establish "tiered pricing."
For example, the price discussed for 24 weeks of Sovaldi
therapy would run about $2,500 for certain patients at public
hospitals, community clinics and non-governmental agencies in
India, the Hindu Business Line reported earlier this week.
"Providing treatment in resource-limited settings presents
complex challenges, and we will work with partners in multiple
sectors around the world to ensure our access program reaches as
many patients as possible," Francis said.
Gilead said final details of the program in India will be
announced in coming months. The company has a similar program in
place for lower-cost versions of its HIV/AIDS drugs.
In the United States, where Sovaldi was approved by
regulators in December, the drug costs $84,000 for 12 weeks of
therapy or $1,000 for a daily pill.
The Foster City, California-based company has said the price
is fair because the treatment offers a potential cure for the
liver-destroying virus without injections of interferon, which
can cause severe side effects that compromise patient outcomes.
Prices in Europe are also lower than in the United States.
The cost for treatment in the United Kingdom is about $57,000
while the price in Germany is around $66,000, the company has
Analysts have estimated that the drug will eventually
generate billions of dollars in annual sales. Sanford Bernstein
has forecast sales this year alone of $6.7 billion.
But some have questioned whether that is achievable. Many
patients including those in the United States, where more than
half of hepatitis C patients are estimated to rely on public
funding, could have difficulty securing reimbursement for such a
Other companies including Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie
and Merck & Co are also working to develop new
hepatitis C treatments with some in advanced stages of clinical
Gilead, which reported 2013 earnings on Tuesday, declined to
include an estimate for hepatitis C sales in its 2014 sales
forecast, saying only that Sovaldi sales so far have been strong
and broadly based.
Sales of Sovaldi in the last three weeks of 2013 totaled
more than $139 million.
The World Health Organization estimates that about three
percent of the world's population has been infected with the
hepatitis C virus and that more than 170 million chronic
carriers are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis, liver cancer
Shares of Gilead fell $3.87, or nearly five percent, to
close at $78.15 in Nasdaq trading on Wednesday. Over the past
two years, the stock has nearly tripled.