New drugs for hepatitis C are a major breakthrough but hugely expensive in rich countries. Pharma giant Gilead will allow cheap copies to be made for poor countries - but only for patients with proof of identification and citizenship and the drug supplies will be closely tracked
The battle over access to the new hepatitis C drug, Gilead’s
sofosbuvir (and similar drugs coming along behind) is hotting up. There
is angst even in the richest countries over the $1000 a pill price tag.
It now looks as though Gilead is going to extraordinary lengths to
ensure that cheaper versions, which it is permitting generic companies
to make for poor countries, do not arrive in affluent world pharmacies.
has agreed to grant voluntary licences to eleven Indian generic
companies, which means the drug will be sold at a reduced price in
low-income countries. But Médecins Sans Frontières, the volunteer
doctors who are treating hepatitis C infection in some of the poorest
regions, say the company has imposed unacceptable conditions.
Gilead stipulates that patients will only get the drug if they can
provide identification, proof of citizenship and residency, which MSF
says will penalise refugees and marginalised communities. The drug
supplies will be closely tracked through codes on the bottles. Gilead,
even though it will not be the manufacturer, will have access to that
information. If they need more, patients will have to return an empty
Labels: access restrictions, generics, Gilead, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)