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Gilead to release generic versions of hep C meds over a decade before patent expiry

Published on 28/09/18 at 10:55am

Gilead has announced its intention to undercut itself by releasing generic versions of its blockbuster drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C, Epclusa (sofosbuvir/velpatasvir) and Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir), more than a decade before their patents expire.

The company’s hep C portfolio generated $831 million in the second quarter of 2018, and the latter of the pair attracted controversy on its 2014 launch when its $1,150-per-pill price tag was revealed.

The new generic versions will be launched in January through a new subsidiary, Asegua Therapeutics, and will carry a list price of $24,000 for the most common course of therapy.

The move is thought to be a response to recent pressure from regulators to push down the high – and ever-rising – costs of drug products. The company claims that some Medicare-covered patients could see a reduction of $2,500 in out-of-pocket costs for treatment.

“In the US, the price paid for Gilead’s HCV medicines by commercial and government health insurers after discounts and rebates have been applied is substantially lower than the list price,” explained a spokesperson from the company. “However, these discounts may not always translate into lower out-of-pocket medication costs for patients. The authorised generics will serve as a bridge to longer-term solutions aimed at reducing out-of-pocket medication costs for people living in the US.”

Matt Fellows

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