Tara Reid, Master’s in Public Health, has been a regular contributor on infectious diseases, like HCV, and its impact on Americans.
This article goes in to the details of why Harvoni cost is so much and what you can do about getting Harvoni at an affordable cost.
- 1 Why does Harvoni cost so much?
- 2 Gilead Sciences Hep C Drugs
- 3 How much does Harvoni cost in India?
- 4 Why is Harvoni price so expensive?
- 5 What is the drug Harvoni used to treat?
- 6 What are the side effects of Harvoni?
- 7 Is Harvoni a pill or an injection?
- 8 Can you drink alcohol while taking Harvoni?
- 9 How long does Harvoni take to work?
Why does Harvoni cost so much?
We are going to take a look at a few smart and logical reasons why Harvoni cost so much.
Short and quick answer:
First, Gilead Sciences invested $11.2 billion dollars to buy the Pharmasset Inc patent of Sofosbuvir, the drug that has a high cure rate for hepatitis C.
If you invest $11.2 billion dollars you want to make your money back, that’s what they did.
Second, it is US Federal law that says if you have a patient that needs medicine to cure any disease (like hepatitis C), the state must pay for it.
States had a legal burden to provide treatment for the hepatitis C patients under their care.
Third and most important reason is if a person has the ability to pay for the treatment with the help of insurance or not, then price it accordingly.
Most people don’t have the ability to pay $94,000 for 84 tablets to get cured for hepatitis C, so they relied on their insurers to carry them through.
Unfortunately, only 23% of patients applied to get coverage for Harvoni got approved.
Your copay for Harvoni would be anywhere around $18,000 to $38,000, that varied from insurer to insurer.
Most insurers did not cover the cost of hepatitis C drugs because it was too expensive, unless it was life threatening.
Gilead Sciences CEO stated “We price the cost of the meds based on the ability of the country to pay.”
Since, we (USA) are a rich nation, we have to pay high prices.
Unlike India, where the average person makes $800 a year, Harvoni cost in India is only $675.
Gilead Sciences Hep C Drugs
We need to understand Gilead Sciences is a multi billion dollar company that manufactures hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and influenza drugs.
To make a several billion dollars a year in profit will come from the individuals that pay for their patented drugs from around the world.
Gilead Sciences is not a charity and they are very smart in pricing their drugs to maximize profit.
Legally, any state in the US, that has patients under its care must provide treatment to cure their disease or condition.
So, Gilead knew that if Sovaldi (hep C drug similar to Harvoni) was priced at $84,000, the state has a legal burden to pay for the treatment regardless of cost.
Many states in the US had to pay the exorbitant price for hepatitis C medication.
As a result several states healthcare budgets went bankrupt.
This was big news in the US, there were protests all around the country from activists.
How much does Harvoni cost in India?
Harvoni manufacturer Gilead Sciences lost the patent fight in India to monopolize the hepatitis C treatment market. Harvoni cost in India is about $675 for 12 weeks treatment, you can order here.
Fortune Magazine Article here.
The demand for Harvoni when it was first introduced around December 6th 2015, was being sold for 4 to 5 times the retail price due to high demand.
Many American hepatitis C patients came to India to purchase Harvoni drug for their friends and families for a fraction of the price. Harvoni price in the US was $94,000, and for one Harvoni tablet cost $1119. That’s a real expensive pill to swallow! Harvoni tablet price in India is about $5 to $10 and is getting more affordable everyday.
Historically many Americans would often buy expensive medicine in Mexico, our Southern neighbor. Harvoni cost in Mexico was about $84,000 for 84 tablets, 12 weeks treatment.
Hep C treatment in Mexico was not only out of reach for Mexicans but also Americans trying to get a bargain.
Another very popular hep C treatment, Sovaldi price or sofosbuvir price in Mexico was equally expensive about $74,000 about a $10,000 discount compared to what it was sold for in the US.
Why is Harvoni price so expensive?
The number one reason news media and journalists around the country agree on is the research and development that goes in to making Harvoni cost so expensive.
We at Sunny Pharma understand a lot of research and development was put in to discovering sofosbuvir, but after doing research we found out we were wrong.
A medical chemist named Michael Sofia invented the drug while working for Pharmasset and a VA hospital. Pharmasset was bought out by Gilead Sciences for $11.2 billion in 2012.
Some believe it was actually discovered at the VA hospital and the invention of sofosbuvir belongs to the US government.
The Gilead hep C drug went through clinical trials that same year and US FDA approved it to treat hepatitis C.
This still doesn’t explain Harvoni cost, the truth is big money was behind this deal, like Gilead’s investment bankers like Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Baraclay’s bank.
Sovaldi price was set at $84,000 because state health departments could handle the price and Gilead would profit heavily from it. Which they did.
Price is about profit and about recouping costs from the purchase of Pharmasset.
Gilead made $48 billion dollars in 4 years with their hepatitis C medicines, Sovaldi, Harvoni and Epclusa.
What is the drug Harvoni used to treat?
Harvoni is a drug that is made of ledipasvir 90mg and sofosbuvir 400mg to treat hepatitis C virus. Harvoni treats hepatitis C genotypes 1, 4, 5 and 6. It can be used in combination for some genotypes with weight based ribavirin.
What are the side effects of Harvoni?
There are very few if any side effects of Harvoni, a little head fog, nausea, insomnia, fatigue, and diarrhea. Most hep C patients don’t have any side effects.
The most common Harvoni side effects documented was fatigue and headache, 16% and 11% respectively.
Is Harvoni a pill or an injection?
Harvoni is a pill taken orally once a day for 84 days or 12 weeks to treat hepatitis C and has a very high cure rate of 95% to 99%.
Can you drink alcohol while taking Harvoni?
It is strongly not advised to drink any form of alcohol when taking Harvoni, Sovaldi, Epclusa, Daklinza, Vosevi, Zepatier and other hep C meds.
Since most hepatitis C patients liver is compromised due to the hepatitis C virus, to drink alcohol is like like throwing gasoline on a fire.
All alcohol is processed by the liver.
When you are trying to kill the hep C virus with Harvoni, drinking alcohol is counter acting the treatment and damaging the liver at the same time.
Not advised to drink alcohol while on any hep C treatment.
How long does Harvoni take to work?
Most hepatitis C patients have documented that they feel much better after 7 to 14 days after taking Harvoni tablets.
This data does not represent all hepatitis C patients.
It is important to note that some patients may take weeks and even more than 3 months depending on their viral load and what genotype they have.
However, generally speaking, most hep C patients feel much better after 14 days of treatment with the once a day pill Harvoni.
1. Harvoni Cost in India $675
Hepcinat LP $675 or Generic Harvoni $675
Hepcinat LP or Generic Harvoni cost in India: is made of ledipasvir 90mg and sofosbuvir 400mg and is once a day tablet taken orally for 84 days or 12 weeks. Treats patients with genotypes 1, 4, 5 and 6. Hepcinat LP is called Harvoni in the US, UK and EU. Harvoni cost in India is now $675.
2. Sovaldi Cost in India $495
Hepcinat or Generic Sovaldi cost in India: is made of sofosbuvir 400mg and is once a day tablet taken orally for 84 days or 12 weeks. May also require weight based ribavirin. Treats patients with genotypes 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Epclusa cost in India $
Velpanat or Generic Epclusa cost in India : is made of velpatasvir 100mg and sofosbuvir 400mg and is once a day tablet taken orally for 84 days or 12 weeks. May also require weight based ribavirin. Treats patients with genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. The first pan genotype medicine for hepatitis C. Sofosvel and Velasoft are also identical to Epclusa.
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