Litigation » Health Secty May Ask Feds To Lower Drug’s Price

Health Secty May Ask Feds To Lower Drug’s Price

Healthcare, Money, Drugs

July 6, 2017

Louisiana has one of the worst rates of hepatitis C in the country. The state rations hepatitis care for Medicaid patients because the cost of the drug to treat it is so high, $94,500 for a 12-week course. The protocol now is to wait for patients to get severe liver damage before treating them, but the state’s Health Secretary is considering asking the federal government to use a little-known law that allows it to employ patents for government use. After invoking the law, it could pay as little as $1,000 for a 12-week course of treatment. Gilead, a company that projects $7.5 billion in sales this year for its hepatitis C drugs, says federal intervention would threaten future progress. In a statement, the company said the proposal “puts in jeopardy further medical innovation by undermining the patent system and de-incentivizing research and development.” But Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, notes that Louisiana’s secretary is “directly challenging the power of a drug company to essentially determine who lives and dies by pricing products so high that she can’t buy them for her population. It puts the issue into a much clearer posture than just sitting around saying, ‘We can’t afford these drugs for poor people.’”

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