Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) announced on 9/24/18 plans to launch authorized generic versions of Epclusa (sofosbuvir 400mg/velpatasvir 100mg) and Harvoni (ledipasvir 90mg/sofosbuvir 400mg), Gilead’s leading treatments for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), in the United States, through a newly created subsidiary, Asegua Therapeutics LLC. The authorized generics will launch at a list price of $24,000 for the most common course of therapy and will be available in January 2019.
Since the launch of Gilead’s first HCV medication in 2013, the average price paid for each bottle of medicine in the United States has decreased by more than 60 percent off of the public list prices, across health insurers and government payers. Current AWP for Harvoni is over $100K for 12 weeks of treatment (AWP is not usually the price paid for the drug). Due to the complexity and structure of the U.S. healthcare system, however, these discounts provided by Gilead may not always translate into lower costs for patients. Further, existing contracts, together with laws associated with government pricing policies, make it challenging to quickly lower a product’s list price once it is on the market.
The authorized generics are priced to more closely reflect the discounts that health insurers and government payers receive today. Insurers will have the choice of offering either the authorized generics or the branded medications for both Epclusa and Harvoni. In the Medicare Part D setting, the authorized generics could save patients up to $2,500 in out-of-pocket costs per course of therapy. The authorized generics will also offer substantial savings to state managed Medicaid plans that do not currently benefit from negotiated rebates and that represent a significant number of people in need, potentially opening up access to our medications to beneficiaries who were previously denied coverage.
“Launching these authorized generics is the best solution available to us today to quickly introduce a lower-priced alternative to our HCV medications without significant disruption to the healthcare system and our business,” said John F. Milligan, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Gilead Sciences. “This launch also will hopefully help increase transparency by more closely aligning our medications’ list prices with their cost. Our ultimate goal is to lower the list price of Epclusa – a medication we believe is of great importance given its clinical profile across genotypes – and Harvoni. We are committed to working with all of our partners in the healthcare system to help enable list price reductions of our HCV medications and find better solutions to reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs.”
A 2017 article in Pharmacy Times https://www.pharmacytimes.com/resource-centers/hepatitisc/will-hepatitis... stated that the cost of Harvoni in Egypt is $900 and $55,000 in Canada. The price disparity with costs in the US has drawn questions from lawmakers and brought accusations of price gouging. In 2017, Mylan launched a generic version of Harvoni in India called MyHep.