Rapid expansion of HCV drugs, treatment population signal need for cost controls

A new report found that prescriptions for ledipasvir and sofosbuvir, the newest hepatitis C treatment, are growing rapidly but the minimal reduction in sofosbuvir prescriptions indicates an overall expansion of the eligible treatment population rather than the former drug replacing the latter, according to a press release.

“The high price of these new hepatitis C treatments and the expanding pool of patients receiving treatment signal a growing and costly trend in treating chronic medical conditions with specialty medicines,” Troyen A. Brennan, MD, chief medical officer of CVS Health and report co-author, said in a press release. “Hepatitis C is just the beginning, and we need to prepare now for the time when large numbers of patients could be treated effectively with high-cost medicines for a variety of common and more complex conditions.”

Using CVS/caremark data, the report compares prescriptions for ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (Harvoni, Gilead) with prescriptions for sofosbuvir (Sovaldi, Gilead) during the 8-week period following the launch of each treatment, the release said. The authors found that post-launch prescriptions for ledipasvir and sofosbuvir exceeded 7,500, which is an estimated 2.5 times greater than the 3,000 prescriptions for sofosbuvir. Furthermore, they found that sofosbuvir use has only declined minimally since the launch of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir, suggesting an overall expansion of the eligible treatment population and high utilization of each drug.

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