An innovative hepatitis C drug that was only recently hailed as a breakthrough treatment is facing skepticism from some health care providers, as they consider whether it is worth the $1,000-a-pill price set by manufacturer Gilead Sciences Inc.
A panel of California medical experts voted Monday that Gilead's Sovaldi represents a "low value" treatment, considering its cost compared with older drugs for the blood-borne virus.
The vote was part of a broader review of new hepatitis C drugs by the California Technology Assessment Forum, an insurance industry-affiliated group that assesses the costs and effectiveness of new medical treatments. The group is expected to issue a final report next month on Sovaldi and another new hepatitis C drug, Olysio from Johnson & Johnson.
Doctors have long sought more effective, palatable treatments for hepatitis C, the liver-destroying virus carried by an estimated 3 million to 4 million Americans. Until late last year, the standard treatments required taking up to 12 pills a day, alongside injections that can cause flu-like symptoms, an approach which only cured about 75 percent of patients.
Gilead Sciences' drug, launched in December, was quickly embraced by physicians based on its once-a-day pill regimen and increased effectiveness, curing between 80 and 90 percent of patients.
But some patients groups and health providers are beginning to question the cost of that benefit. (Más)