by Azzi Momenghalibaf
Open Society Foundations, December 2013
In December 2013, authorities in the United States and Europe approved Gilead’s highly anticipated hepatitis C drug, sofosbuvir. This drug and other new treatments for hepatitis C, called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), have created a buzz among medical and research communities, patients, and financial analysts. Taken in pill form rather than by injection, and with cure rates and side-effect profiles better than previously seen for hepatitis C, many are hailing sofosbuvir and other new oral medicines as “miracle cures.” Sofosbuvir’s estimated US$ 80,000 price tag for a 12-week course makes it out of reach for nearly 90% of people living with hepatitis C worldwide who reside in low- and middle-income countries. A key question is whether citizens, government officials, and international bodies like the World Health Organization feel committed to push for truly affordable medicine pricing that prioritizes people’s health over corporate profit.