In 2013 the FDA approved Sovaldi- a revolutionary treatment for hepatitis C which treats the disease effectively in just 12 weeks and exposes patients to significantly fewer side-effects than the drugs previously available in the market. The producer of this drug is Gilead Sciences, an American, California based biopharmaceutical company which was founded in 1987 and focuses primarily on antiviral drugs.
The price Gilead listed to Sovaldi in the American market is $1,000 per pill; $84,000 for the full 12-week regimen. In 2014, shortly after the drug was available to the public and following a massive public rage the United States Senate Committee on Finance started investigating Sovaldi high price and asked Gilead to provide justifications.
Today, the price of the drug to the American healthcare companies is unknown to the public. And under negotiations terms, it is believed to be much lower than the list price of $1,000 per pill that is still published online.
In other countries in the global north, the price of Sovaldi is significantly lower than the list price of the US. Canada pays $55,000 for a course of treatment. France recently got Gilead down to a price of about $33,000.
However, the more interesting part of this variation is its lower edge, the pricing Gilead give to the drug in developing countries, especially in India and Egypt, where the price is 4.29$ and 99 cents respectively.
This pricing dynamic is fascinating, it seems like Gilead is determined the price following the GDP or some other indexes rather on negotiation only. Moreover, in Egypt, where the drug is the cheapest today it also follows a serious need in it since it’s the country with the highest prevalence of the disease in the world.
Sovaldi price variation rais important questions of equity and fairness in the global trade setting. When taking into account the consumption of the drug in the US and the risk groups for hepatitis C, I am not sure how the American ( often uninsured) patients can afford to buy this drug.