In late 2013 a revolutionary drug called Sofosbuvir (brand name: Sovaldi) by Gilead Sciences got approved by US FDA, which claimed to have 90% cure rate for Hepatitis C, Genotype-1
Hepatitis C causes Liver Cirrhosis and may later lead to Live Cancer
HCV genotype 1 is more common in United States of America than in India, in India we have 80% genotype 2 and 3 patients
Earlier the treatment of HCV was only done with Peg Interferon and Ribavirin which had cure rate of less than 50%, but the new drug combination (Peg Interferon + Ribavirin + Sofosbuvir) for Genotype 1, taken for 3 months and interferon free combination with only Ribavirin ( Sofosbuvir + Ribavirin) taken for 6 months, has the cure rate of 90% and has significantly reduced the treatment period of earlier which was up to 12 months with serious side effect causing drug interferon
So it will largely prevent liver failure and need of liver transplant and will save lives, but at what cost?
Sofosbuvir taken once daily costs $1000 per pill and costs up to whooping $84000 to 168000 for various genotypes plus additional treatment costs during complete treatment phase
In late 2014 another combination which is completely interferon free got released called Harvoni (Ledipasvir + Sofosbuvir), which claimed to have cure rates of 98% for most robust Genotype-1
But again the cost of single pill is $1125 and the total treatment cost is around $95000
Even the richest in USA cannot afford it and health insurance companies are not covering the cost
So the big question is what is the use of such invention if it is not within the reach of common people around the world?
People are dying because of liver cirrhosis, and many in India don’t know even they have this disease which is due to HCV
Stock market have termed Sofosbuvir as a blockbuster invention and has made billions in profit, there is lots invested in drug research and it is hard work of scientists and doctors for years, but I think after making good profit the cost must be reduced so that it is affordable for all
Gilead Sciences has given license to Indian Drug manufactures in late 2014 to make generic versions of drug Sofosbuvir at low cost and Harvoni licence is still in waiting.
Even the generic version costs $300 per 28 tablet bottle, and the treatment costs with interferon and Ribavirin costs around $1500 – $2000 per month in India
India is very poor country even affording $1000 per month is impossible for lot of Indian families so in India HCV treatment is still only to the reach middle and rich families, poor people of India will come to know about HCV when they will have, ascitis (the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, causing abdominal swelling) and later doctors will say nothing can be done
Thought if you come to India and buy HCV drug from local market it will cost you only 1% the cost you would pay in United States and you can have your treatments in world class hospitals of India
Good for people in developed countries
And for rest poor Indians, they must hope and pray to millions of Gods that someday Government of India will recognise the necessity and will subsidise the drug for poor Indians