Reports that Gilead Sciences plans to charge $2,000 in India for 24 weeks of therapy with hepatitis C drug Sovaldi has failed to stop criticism from Medecins Sans Frontieres which claims the price is still far too high.
The biotech has yet to give specifics about the level of tiered pricing it is planning but the Hindu Business Line quoted Gregg Alton, Gilead’s head of corporate and medical affairs, as saying it will cost Indians $2,000, though discussions with patient groups are ongoing. In the USA Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) costs $84,000 for 12 weeks' treatment, $1,000 per day.
Rohit Malpani, director of policy and analysis of MSF's Access Campaign, is not impressed, saying that "when you’re starting from such an exorbitant price in the USA, the price Gilead will offer poor countries may seem like a good discount". However, he claimed studies show "it’s very cheap to produce this drug, at around $68 to $136 per 12-week treatment course".
It has also been reported that Gilead is in licensing discussions with Indian companies that would allow them to sell their versions of sofosbuvir in 60 low and middle-income countries.
However Mr Malpani argues that voluntary licence that Gilead is offering in India is "unnecessary because there is currently no patent for sofosbuvir in the country". As such, companies do not need a licence agreement to start producing the drug in India "and we believe a patent opposition filed in the country will result in Gilead failing to get a patent there".
He concluded by saying that "we know from our experience treating HIV over the last decade and a half that treatment needs to be simple and affordable - full HCV treatment and diagnosis needs to be available for no more than $500 per person".