Betting on hepatitis C: how financial speculation in drug development influences access to medicines

by Victor Roy and Lawrence King
BMJ 2016; 354:i3718 (Published 27 July 2016)

5 pp. 1.1 MB
http://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/354/bmj.i3718.full.pdfPic 001

Sofosbuvir based medicines have marked an important breakthrough for patients with hepatitis C infection, offering cure rates of over 90%. Even after discounts offered from a US list price of about US$ 90, 000 (£70 ,000; €80 ,000) per three month treatment course, however, the cost of these drugs, manufactured by Gilead Sciences, has challenged government budgets and led to rationing. The authors use the case of hepatitis C to highlight another dynamic missing from the debate: the financial model driving large companies and their shareholders. This speculative cycle propels the prices of medicines and impedes affordable access for both current and future patients.

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