January 8, 2015 / 10:06 PM / 5 years ago

Anthem selects Gilead as primary supplier of hepatitis C drugs

Jan 8 (Reuters) - Health insurer Anthem Inc on Thursday said it reached a deal under which Gilead Sciences Inc’s hepatitis C drug Harvoni will be the primary treatment for patients infected with the most common strain of the liver-destroying virus.

Anthem said the deal effectively lowers its hepatitis C treatment costs. “We were able to achieve a very competitive rate and a freeze on retail pricing for 2015,” the insurer said in an emailed statement. “That does favorably impact plan costs for 2015.”

Gilead has come under fire for the high cost of Harvoni, as well as predecessor drug Sovaldi, which was launched in late 2013 at a price of $1,000 per pill. Harvoni has a list price of $94,500 for 12 weeks of treatment, or $1,125 per daily pill.

Last month, AbbVie Inc began sales of a competing drug, Viekira Pak, at a similar list price. Express Scripts Holding Co, the largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, subsequently chose AbbVie’s drug as the exclusive option for patients in its largest commercial plan, covering 25 million people.

CVS Health Corp, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy benefit manager announced earlier this week it had selected Gilead’s drugs as its exclusive option for patients on commercial plans as well as those covered under its healthcare exchange plans, Medicare and Medicaid.

More than three million people in the United States are believed to be infected with hepatitis C. (Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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