Patients in the US and Europe have struggled to get access to the drug after insurers and governments limited its use to the sickest patients to control costs
New York/Mumbai: This is how far one Express
Scripts Holding Co. executive was willing to go to secure inexpensive
versions of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, unavailable
to US consumers under federal drug import and patent laws.
His plan: Dock a cruise ship flying an Indian flag off the coast of
Miami. Stock the ship with versions of Sovaldi sold in India for $83,000
less than the US retail price for 12 weeks of treatment. Ferry US
patients to the boat and send them home with the potentially life-saving
medicines at a huge discount.
The only wrinkle in his plan wasn’t the absurdity of a
pharmacy benefit manager manning and operating a cruise ship full of
drugs from India. The problem, after doing some quick research into the
idea, was that it would probably violate US drug re-importation laws
that limit the value of drugs brought into the country to $1,500—the
price of one and a half Sovaldi tablets in the US, said Steve Miller,
chief medical officer at Express Scripts, who came up with the idea.
Labels: drug tourism, global access to cheap drugs