Doctors are calling Gilead Sciences’ new hepatitis C drug a “game changer.” The pill, called sofosbuvir, is more effective than comparable drugs, works more quickly and makes treatment less painful.
“Suddenly, it’s realistic to think we can cure most patients with hepatitis C,” said Dr. Greg Fitz, president of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, in a news conference where Gilead presented research on sofosbuvir.
But patient rights advocates argue that the drug’s price tag — an estimated $84,000 per treatment — puts sofosbuvir out of reach for many.
The Food and Drug Administration gave the go-ahead on Dec. 6. Gilead will own the market in the United States for at least 20 years before generic drug producers can get in the game and bring prices down.
But in India, advocates for affordable medicine are fighting to block the pharmaceutical company’s patent. If they win, the country will be able to crank out low-cost copies of the drug for millions in India and other developing countries.