These Researchers Think They Have a Solution to the Global Crisis in Drug Prices

Friday, November 4, 2016

Jerome Zeldis remembers exactly how he felt when he heard about the $84,000 price tag on a powerful new hepatitis C treatment three years ago.

“I was somewhere between annoyed and outraged,” recalled Zeldis, the former chief medical officer of the biotech juggernaut Celgene.

The cost of a 12-week course of Gilead Sciences’ drug Sovaldi triggered fierce pushback from insurers, politicians and the public, and helped spark a national debate on high drug prices.

As a physician, Zeldis had cared for hundreds of patients infected with hepatitis C and seen how, untreated, the virus ravaged people’s livers. That a high price could bar patients from easy access to a cure seemed unethical to him in the face of a rare public health opportunity to vanquish a disease that afflicts 150 million people globally.

“If we make it affordable … this epidemic can be cured,” Zeldis said. “I want to be bold — I want to treat 100 million people by 2030 — end of story. And there is really no reason why we can’t.”

Zeldis had been mulling hepatitis C therapies, and he believed it was possible to develop a medicine, sell it for a fraction of the price of Sovaldi and still make money.

Source: Washington Post (link opens in a new window)

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