New treatment for hepatitis C from India
Generic sofosbuvir and ledipasvir – used in a combination as a new treatment for hepatitis C – will cost 1/90 of their US price
Despite its amazing efficiency, little side effects and short treatment course, the new direct-action antiviral, sofosbuvir (used together with ribavirin, daclatasvir or ledipasvir as a new treatment for hepatitis C), is only prescribed to a tiny fraction of patients. And no wonder! At $1,000 per pill, it is the drug that the majority of the developed world simply can’t afford.
Gilead, the owner of sofosbuvir patent in the US, has been widely criticized for its outrageous pricing strategy. In India, however, their approach is very different. In September 2014, Big Pharma signed voluntarily licensing agreements with seven Indian generic drug manufacturers. According to these agreements, generic version of sofosbuvir can now be produced for sale in India and 90 other developing and middle-income countries – with a much more modest price tag.
The licensees are free to set their own price. While Gilead planned to sell original Sovaldi™ in India for $900, generic manufacturers will probably sell it for even less. Even at this discounted price the drug still won’t be affordable to Indians, the critics say, pointing out that GDP per capita in India is only $1480.
The manufacturing costs of 12-weeks sofosbuvir treatment are less than $150, according to expert estimation.
While the new hepatitis C drug remains too expensive for Americans in the US, for Europeans in Europe and for Indians in India, Indian generics will be perfectly affordable for Western population. Even keeping in mind the travel costs, hep C-related medical tourism in India is likely to flourish.
Some already propose innovative – and often daring – solutions to import new treatment for hepatitis C to their home country (read here).