A bipartisan Senate investigation into the high cost of a hepatitis C drug came down hard Tuesday on a biopharmaceutical company for the price it set for its treatment.
Gilead Sciences allegedly based its marketing strategy on maximizing revenue when it decided to charge $84,000 for a 12-week course of the drug Sovaldi (and even more for its successor), according to the 134-page report released Tuesday. Looking forward, the report asked questions about how innovative therapies should be priced, on how transparency could be increased, and on what tools exist—or should be created—to analyze the effect that high-cost drugs have on accessibility.
Gilead Sciences disagrees with the investigation’s findings: “Gilead responsibly and thoughtfully priced Sovaldi and [successor drug] Harvoni,” the company wrote in an emailed statement.
Though the investigation spanned 18 months—launched by Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley—its release comes amid a political climate that has become increasingly focused on the high cost of pharmaceuticals.
Drug pricing has come up on both the Democratic and Republican presidential campaign trails. Last month, the Health and Human Services Department held a daylong pharmaceutical forum. And recent Kaiser Family Foundation polling has found the issue isn’t just swirling around political circles—that people really care. Prescription-drug affordability ranks at the top of the public’s health priorities for the president and Congress, higher than repealing parts or all of Obamacare, according to Kaiser’s October Health Tracking poll.