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Drug Pricing 'Tantamount to Greed,' Lawmaker Says

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 24, 2014

Four legislative actions could ease the burden of high-cost prescription drugs—such as a $1,000-per-pill hepatitis C drug—on Medicare, the public, and commercial payers, says U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman.

Calling Sovaldi, a high-priced drug for hepatitis C, "the poster child for high Medicare Part D drug prices," Rep. Henry Waxman, (D-CA), Wednesday urged Congress to pass several bills that would ease the prescription price burden on seniors, taxpayers, and the Medicare trust fund.

Made by Gilead Sciences, Sovaldi costs $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment. "Why are they charging that? Because they have a monopoly and they can charge whatever they want," Waxman said.


Sovaldi

He made his remarks during a news conference announcing the release of a report by MedicareRights.org and SocialSecurityWorks.org, two non-profits working to solve problems for older adults and the disadvantaged.

Citing a recent analysis, the congressman said Medicare Part D coverage for Sovaldi alone "will increase Medicare drug spending by $6.5 billion, or 8% in 2015. That's an astounding amount for one drug."

'Tantamount to Greed'
Waxman said Gilead had failed to respond to all the information his office had requested, and said the price for Sovaldi is tantamount to "greed." 

"I was interested when we wrote them a letter asking them how they can possibly charge so much for this drug, when people and governments can't afford it, and insurance plans can't afford it. Their stock dropped. The reality is that unless Congress acts, they can get away with it. Their greed is going to be unrestrained, and I say it's their greed because they haven't proved to me that it's not. Their investment is well returned with a reasonable price, and I think they're charging an unreasonable price."
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