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 said.
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 high-priced drug.
[to top of second column]
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 studies.
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
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 or both.
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.
(Reporting by Deena Beasley; editing by
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