Hepatitis C drug costing VA, DoD millions

One of the costliest drugs on the market threatens the Veterans Affairs Department's health budget — to the point that VA, which added the medication to its formulary in April, provides it to only the sickest patients who need it.

But treating all of the 174,000 hepatitis C patients in the VA health system is cost-prohibitive. Even with the cost negotiated by VA with the company's maker, Gilead Sciences Inc. of Foster City, California — $594 per dose — treatment would run nearly $12 billion.

So VA has taken a conservative approach to providing the treatment, reserving Sovaldi and its competitor, Olysio, made by Janssen Therapeutics of Titusville, New Jersey (negotiated cost: $413 per pill), for those with advanced liver disease or needing a transplant.

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