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Sofosbuvir cost: why so high?

Being the only medication that shows a decent cure rate in treatment of hepatitis C (from 82% to 96% depending on the genotype of the virus, according to recent clinical studies), sofosbuvir is one of the most important drugs on the pharmaceutical market of today. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive. The cost of a 12-week treatment course with Sovaldi (brand-name version of sofosbuvir manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc.) ranges between $45,000 and $84,000 in different countries of the world. Besides, there is at least one genotype of hep C virus that requires 24 weeks of treatment, which doubles its overall cost.

Needless to say, there aren’t too many patients who can afford to pay for sofosbuvir out of their own pockets – even when the only alternative to taking this medication is much less effective supporting therapy or even complete lack thereof. In most of the cases in developed countries the cost of hep C therapy is either taken on by health insurance companies or co-funded by the government. But what are the options if neither of the abovementioned are available to the patient? Is there such a thing as cheaper generic sofosbuvir and, if so, where can one get it? In today’s article we will try to get this question, together with a few more, answered. However, first, let’s try to understand why, when launching sofosbuvir, Gilead Sciences decided to make it as expensive as it is these days.

Possible reasons why Gilead sofosbuvir price is so high

There are numerous versions that can explain why brand-name sofosbuvir is so pricey and all of them sound perfectly reasonable. Let’s take a look at the most popular of them.

Version #1: The initial development of sofosbuvir cost a lot of money and now the pharmaceutical company is trying to get it back.

Even though this assumption is clearly correct, there’s more than meets the eye. First of all, it wasn’t Gilead Sciences, Inc. that developed sofosbuvir. The outstanding effect of this drug was first discovered by a company called Pharmasset, which was later purchased by Gilead for $11 billion. So, yes indeed, the price the pharmaceutical giant ended up paying for becoming the exclusive owner of sofosbuvir was very, very high. However, it’s currently estimated that Gilead has already made more than $32 billion on the miracle hep C cure. That’s more than $20 billion in profit – a very substantial sum even for pharmaceutical market. Therefore, it’s absolutely no surprise that health organizations all over the world are trying to void Gilead’s patent thinking that the company has already made enough money on sofosbuvir and it’s time to give it to the ones who need it but can’t afford it.

It's important to remember, however, that far not all the money earned on sofosbuvir is going straight into the pockets of Gilead’s investors. Just like any other major pharmaceutical company, it’s currently funding countless medical researches aimed at discovering new drugs that could help in treatment of other serious diseases that are considered to be almost incurable at the moment. Without this money there’s a chance that we will never find a cure for HIV, cancer or new dangerous diseases like swine flu or Ebola virus that spring to life every year.

Version #2: It costs a lot to produce sofosbuvir.

Now that’s completely untrue. The mere existence of generic sofosbuvir that is sold at prices as low as $300-1000 for a 12-week course proves that it doesn’t really cost a fortune to manufacture it. In fact, the cost of producing 84 tablets of sofosbuvir, which is enough for the full course of treatment, has been estimated to be around $101. Of course, maybe this number is not 100% accurate but the fact that it comes from one of the world’s leading health organizations makes it trustworthy enough. So, what do we have here… Looks like Gilead is charging patients around 840 times more than what it spends on making Sovaldi. We’re used to pharmaceutical companies being a little greedy but that’s taking greedy to a whole new level, that’s for sure!

Version #3: Gilead is trying to make some serious money for its investors

Unfortunately, even though this version sounds a little too cynical, it’s probably fairly close to truth. In the end of the day, every pharmaceutical company is a business in the first place. And the main purpose of any business is to make as much money as it’s possible.

We’re not trying to show Gilead as a villain from a Hollywood movie or something – especially now that it legally allowed quite a few companies in India, Pakistan and Egypt to manufacture generic sofosbuvir and distribute it in the poorest regions of Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific. They know that most hep C patients in developed countries of the world are at least partially protected by health insurance or governmental healthcare funding, so don’t think they are leaving people to just die there or something. It’s hard to judge them for running the successful business their company undoubtedly is.

Generic sofosbuvir price

So, we bet you have already been shocked once in the process of reading this article when we announced the enormous price of brand-name Sovaldi. Now get ready to be shocked once again as we list the prices of generic sofosbuvir in different countries of the world. Let’s start with India, for instance – the country where most reliable generic medications currently come from. Average generic sofosbuvir price that you can expect to get there is $1,000 for the full 12-week course. This moderate sum of money can buy you 100% effective and risk-free sofosbuvir by a well-known manufacturer like Cipla Limited, for example. By the way, Cipla Limited is one of more than a dozen companies that have been officially approved by Gilead as reliable generic sofosbuvir manufacturers.

In other countries of the world where generic sofosbuvir is either manufactured or legally imported and sold, its price is also anything but sky-high. $900 will definitely get you cured in Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan or Turkey and if you are adventurous enough to go for sofosbuvir produced by one of the less known manufacturers, you can even get away with as few as $300 probably. By the way, there are numerous brand names that generic sofosbuvir is sold under – Hepcinat, Hepcivir, MyHep and Sofovir being just a few of them.

And the best part is that you don’t necessarily have to go to one of the abovementioned countries in order to get access to generic sofosbuvir (even though medical tourism is somewhat safer as opposed to other ways of obtaining generic medications). There are numerous websites that sell this drug online and even ship it to countries like the United States! All you have to do is obtain a doctor’s prescription for sofosbuvir (some online drugstores will ask you to present a scan thereof and in some cases the same will be requested during customs clearance), spend a few hours reviewing customer feedback in order to find a 100% trustworthy Internet-based pharmacy and… That’s it – you’re ready to order your generic sofosbuvir online at a tiny fraction of the price you would have paid for Gilead’s medication.

Generic sofosbuvir vs. Gilead’s Sovaldi

While most of generic sofosbuvir versions are 100% identical to Gilead’s Sovaldi, there are also a few of them that are not the same with the original drug. And it’s not actually a bad thing at all! For example, a hep C medication called MyHep LVIR (manufactured by an Indian company named Mylon Pharmaceuticals Private Limited) comprises a combination of sofosbuvir and Ledipasvir (400mg and 90mg per pill respectively). The main benefit of this medication is the following: while sofosbuvir and Sovaldi in particular has to be taken along with ribavirin and maybe an occasional shot of peginterferon, getting treated with sofosbuvir+Ledipasvir is so much easier. You will basically have to take only 1 pill a day and that’s it – no other tablets and no injections at all!

Of course, not all generic versions of sofosbuvir are identical to or better than Sovaldi by Gilead. Some of them might have different strength or may comprise low-grade sofosbuvir, which can potentially be dangerous for the patient’s health. Thus, it’s very important to pay as much attention as it’s possible when choosing what form of generic sofosbuvir to buy and where to buy it from. We strongly suggest that you order only from reliable sources with enough customer feedback about them instead of just going for the cheapest option out there. Please, remember to shop for meds online responsibly at all times as it is your precious health that depends on it. Take care!

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