Poll: Most Voters Say $1,000-a-Pill Hepatitis Drug Price ‘Unacceptable’
A significant majority of U.S. residents say a new $1,000-a-pill drug for hepatitis C is "unacceptable" and could curb innovation within the drug industry, according to a Morning Consult survey released Tuesday, The Hill reports (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 7/15).
The online survey, which was conducted from July 9 through July 11, drew responses from a 2,010 likely voters in November's midterm elections (Hamlet, Morning Consult, 7/15).
High Price Spurs Debate, Draws Queries
Sovaldi, a drug approved for use in December 2013 and manufactured by Gilead Sciences, treats hepatitis C, has been touted in the media as a breakthrough, since hepatitis C has so few effective treatment options. It's manufactured by Gilead Sciences, based in Foster City. The drug has a wholesale price of $1,000 per pill, or about $84,000 per treatment cycle (Gorn, California Healthline, 5/8).
However, negotiations on drug prices in private insurance plans and some Medicaid plans could lower the drug's cost. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has argued in favor of the price, saying the drug ultimately will reduce future health costs, including patients who need liver transplants (The Hill, 7/15).
Poll Finds Discontent Over High Price
The new poll, which was sponsored by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, found that only 18% of respondents agree that Sovaldi's cost is "acceptable" and necessary "for innovative, life-saving drug treatments," while the other 82% said the pricing is "unacceptable."
In addition, almost six out of 10 respondents said they were concerned their families would not be able to afford specialty drugs because of future price increases (The Hill, 7/15).
Advocates: Sovaldi Debate Poses Defining Moment for Health Care System
John Rother -- president and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care -- said the Sovaldi debate over how the drug is "impos[ing] an incredible barrier to access" is a pivotal moment for the health care system. Rother was speaking during a panel discussion on specialty drugs hosted by Morning Consult.
He noted that the health care system is in the midst of figuring out how best to:
- Pay for drugs;
- Prioritize treatments;
- Design insurance to make drugs affordable; and
- Ensure access to life-saving medication.
In addition, Matt Salo -- executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors -- said the health care industry is "going to have to figure out some kind of compromise to" the choice between paying for expensive new cures or not expecting drugmakers to take on risky investments. Otherwise, he said, "what we have is a total blowing up of Medicaid budgets, of state budgets and of basically everything that we do" (Millman, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 7/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.