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Gilead launches hep C drug Sovaldi in China at one-fifth of US price

Published on 29/11/17 at 09:46am

Gilead has officially launched its hepatitis C drug Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) in the Chinese market, but with one major caveat: it will cost 58,980 yuan ($8,937) in the region, just one-fifth of its price tag in the US – a price which has fallen rapidly from the $84,000 it originally launched at.

There are around 10 million cases of chronic hepatitis C in China, says Zhang Hong, Director of the Infectious Diseases Department at Shaanxi Provincial People’s Hospital, while the total number of such cases worldwide is 130 million, according to WHO estimates.

Traditionally, China has relied on interferon and ribavirin therapies which necessitate weekly injections for up to 48 weeks and cure only around half of patients, coming with a raft of harsh side-effects such as hair loss.

This isn’t the first time Gilead has made concessions on price to get a drug into a national market, dropping the price of Sovaldi by a massive 99% to make the therapy available in India.

Declining sales of its hepatitis C drugs, particularly Harvoni and Sovaldi, is pushing Gilead to make them available in new markets. Total sales of its portfolio in this therapeutic area fell by 23% to $14.8 billion last year. The company is reportedly preparing to follow up this launch by making Harvoni and Epclusa available in the country.

“We will continue to cooperate with the government, doctors and health care organizations, bring more innovative products to China, make them more accessible and try to eliminate hepatitis C in the world,” said Luo Yongqing, General Manager of Gilead China.

Matt Fellows

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