20-May-15 7:00 AM  CST

Activists Call for a Void of Patents for Solvaldi

The hepatitis C virus affects more than 3.2 million people in the U.S alone. Sadly, the virus, which often has no immediate symptoms, quietly affects the liver, leaving those who have been infected not knowing they have the disease. It is for this very reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that there may be many more than the 3.2 million estimated to have the disease. What makes matters worse is that there are several types of hepatitis C, but the most common in the U.S. is type 1. Because there are several types of hepatitis C it can be difficult to treat, simply due to the fact that different types or stains of the virus respond differently to treatment.

Although there may be no initially noticeable symptoms, hepatitis C can cause patients to have the following issues,

  • Jaundice – which is a yellowing of the eyes, skin and dark colored urine
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

For many years the treatments available for hepatitis C were limited and had no lasting affects against the disease, that is until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the antiviral, Sovaldi (sofosbuvir). Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), which is manufacturered by Gilead Sciences, works by preventing the replication of the cells responsible for the virus. Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) has been shown to be remarkably effective, yet not all the news that comes with Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) has been positive.

It seems the greatest downfall of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) is the cost. Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) has proven to be so cost exorbitant that it has left the very patients it was meant to help seeking for ways to afford its benefit. In the United States a full treatment therapy of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) will cost the patient somewhere in the neighborhood of $84,000 for a 400mg daily, 12-week therapy. In a time when the skyrocketing cost of prescription medications has come into question, Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) has been paraded to the very top of the list. This has left those within the medical profession as well as activist groups, calling for the voiding of Gilead Science patent on Sovaldi (sofosbuvir).

 Hepatitis C is a worldwide disease that affects every country in the world. Some places in the world, such as Brazil, Argentina, and Ukraine, have yet to approve a patent for Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), stating that the 16 billion in worldwide sales of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) since it hit the market in 2013 has allowed Gilead Science more than enough to recoup the costs associated with drug research and development. Furthermore, many health professions and activists believe that Solvaldi (sofosbuvir) offers nothing more to patients than “old science” and this alone does not justify the cost.

  Pressure to reduce the cost of Solvadli (sofosbuvir) and its other highly successful hepatitis C Harvoni (ledipasivir/sofosbuvir), a fixed dose combination drug, has haunted Gilead Science over the last year. Many believe this efforts to reduce the costs associated with these drug may just be the wake up call Gilead Science needs.

Resources:

Polk, A., “High Cost of Hepatitis C Drug Prompts a Call to Void Drug Patents”, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/business/high-cost-of-hepatitis-c-drug-prompts-a-call-to-void-its-patents.html?ref=health&_r=0, retrieved, 20, May 2015

WebMD, “What is Hepatitis C, http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/tc/hepatitis-c-topic-overview, retrieved, 20, May, 2015


For additional information on this article, please contact:
 
Sandra Andrews
(717) 360-1159
 
Source: Sandy Andrews  

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