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High Prices of Treatment
Jul 24, 2014

Dr. Young in some of your other answers you've mentioned medications from Gilead sciences and ViiV Healthcare.

Medications like Trii, Stribild, Atripla, and Solvadi.

These medications are huge in the HIV/AIDS/HEP C community not only in their effectiveness but in their price.

Are there any strategies that government, HIV/AIDS & Hep C Groups, and Pharmaceutical companies are looking at to help reduce these prices while still allowing for the capital accumulation to continue with such breakthrough therapies?

Additionally are there any dates that we can look forward to when those above mentioned medications may be produced in a generic sense and allow for the price points to become much more affordable.

As always thank you for your service and time.

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting your comments.

Prices for drugs are high and drug pricing often limits who can access medications. There are strategies here in the US for improving access, such as patient assistance programs, but in my opinion these are band aids that only reinforces high prices. Now, don't get me wrong, I believe that until a time when governments fully fund drug development (and that will never be the case), the companies (and shareholders) who risk investment in this field deserve a return on their investments.

Generic medications (for HIV, not HCV) are on the horizon; currently, abacavir, lamivudine and nevirapine are available as generics, next year, efavirenz will be generic. The problem is that there is yet a fully generic regimen that is recommended in current treatment guidelines.

The core problem is that in the US, the profit of publicly traded companies (like drug companies) is protected by law, whereas access to health care is not. So greed of shareholders will win in court over the need of life saving medications.

The problem has come to acute focus with the cost of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), one of the first, really effective HCV drugs. Read more here about the Treatment Action Groups commentary at the recent International AIDS Conference.

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