Truth or Truthish: The $1,000 Hepatitis C Pill

Sovaldi

I can’t comprehend that. Is that expensive? Put it in units of measurement I would understand, like in Taco Bell bean burritos.

 

 

There are no lies in politics. There is only truth and truthish. Truths are things we hold dear and know to be infallible, truthish are beliefs that have a kernel of truth in them with a healthy coating of hearsay and bullshit. You know, like all factual information in politics.

 

In this series, we take a fact and see which side it falls on. In this installment we talk about the hepatitis C pill, Sovaldi and it’s much discussed a $1,000 price tag.    

 

 

The Premise

Leading medical experts have been raving about a new hepatitis C drug called Sovaldi. In clinical studies 9 out of 10 patients have been cured by the treatment. The old treatment for hepatitis C required daily doses of multiple pills and extended bouts of interferon treatment, which has been known to cause flu-like symptoms after prolonged exposure. Sovaldi, on the other hand, is considerably less taxing on the patient with treatments lasting only twelve weeks. With so many upsides to this new drug, logic would dictate that it has become the new standard for hepatitis C treatment.

 

Then again, as we all are aware, logic has no place in the US healthcare system.

 

While Sovaldi can be procured within the US health system, treatment however can be costly. It’s been said that a 12-week treatment of Sovaldi can average to around $1,000 per pill. So is this truth or truthish?

 

It’s truthish, right? It HAS to be. Oh dear God, why do I have this sinking feeling that it’s truth…

 

 

The Straight Dope

Earlier this year Sovaldi hit the market after a cure rate 90% in clinical trials. With such a high success rate you would expect the drug to be pretty costly in its original release.

 

And you would be right.

 

It’s said that it’s $84,000 for a 12-week treatment. Considering Sovaldi treatments consist of taking a daily pill along with light interferon treatments, logistically speaking, this isn’t as intensive as past hepatitis C treatments. So with that said, all that breaks down to is about… damn… $1,000 a day. Which means the $1,000-per-pill price tag is a justifiable statement.

 

So the question that’s probably on your mind right now is,

 

responsible for this

 

As with most things, there is a lot of blame to go around. Yet while blaming the drug company that creates the drug, Gilead, for making their medicine obscenely expensive or lashing out at a health care system that doesn’t use the practice of differential pricing nearly enough as it should, is all well and good, it doesn’t get to the bigger point.

 

That the system as a whole needs fixing. All that Sovaldi’s Scrooge-McDuck-like price tag shows that this is on a systematic level that is more complicated than most media sound bites would suggest. It encompasses everything from pharmaceutical companies having to charge so much money for new drugs since the system encourages copycat companies to clone the drugs later to a medical system that thinks it’s perfectly fine paying such a ludicrous price tag for medical services.

 

This isn’t death by gunshot, but by a million paper cuts.

 

But as for right now, Sovaldi’s $1,000 a-pill price tag is sadly…

 

 

Verdict: TRUTH

 

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