In Hep-C battle price is big issue

cost-of-drugsPOST SUMMARY: The largest manager of U.S. prescription-drug benefits is taking sides in a fight between new hepatitis C treatments that cost close to $100,000 per patient.

According to the Wall Street Journal: Express Scripts Holding Co. will make an AbbVie Inc. drug the exclusive option for patients with the most common form of hepatitis C. The move will help the drug maker take market share from Gilead Sciences Inc., which makes the blockbuster Sovaldi, but is likely to be controversial for limiting doctors’ and patients’ treatment choices.

Express Scripts, which has been critical of the cost of Gilead’s treatments, said on Monday it had negotiated to receive a discount from AbbVie on the $83,319 wholesale price of the multidrug Viekira Pak, a standard 12-week course of treatment that was approved by U.S. regulators on Friday. In exchange, Express Scripts will no longer pay for Gilead’s drugs for patients with a type of hepatitis C known as genotype 1, representing about two-thirds of the people with the viral liver disease.

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When AbbVie’s drug came out John Mack over at Pharma Marketing Blog thought that their pricing might be collusion but it’s obvious that they were willing to offer a substantial discount to Express Scripts to get the business.  One has to winder where this is going to lead.  Will, for example, providers like Express Scripts offer patients one MS treatment instead of expensive other ones?

It seems that at least one provider is stepping back and saying “enough is enough” when it comes to prices.  It will be interesting to see which provider has the courage to say no to the onslaught on expensive cancer drugs that may offer little benefit to patients.