Costly Hepatitis ‘C’ Drug Makers Face New Fire

A Senate hearing on Wednesday into the staggering cost of specialty drugs to treat the deadly Hepatitis C virus has once again raised the question of how far the government should go to try to beat down pharmaceutical costs without discouraging research and development or creating drug shortages.

Although the Department of Veterans Affairs – the largest provider of care for those with chronic Hepatitis C infections – receive a 40-percent bulk rate discount, the drugs are still blowing a hole in the agency’s budget and threaten to add $1.3 billion to VA hospitals’ operating costs over the next two years. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, is pushing to bring down the cost, but Gilead for now is fending off pressure – and company officials said they were too busy to testify yesterday.

“We cannot leave VA providers in the position where they are forced to choose which veterans get treated for their HCV [Hepatitis C virus] and which do not because of cost,” Sanders said in his statement. “Companies like Gilead are gouging the American consumer and the American taxpayer and ignoring any sort of moral obligation to help very sick people access life-saving medications.”

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See Also:
Government Action Needed to Slash Prices for Hepatitis C Treatments

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