WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is the lead Republican on a bipartisan investigative report released today that gives rare insight into how a company prices a landmark prescription drug.  In this case, the company anticipated it would face public outcry over a high price for a Hepatitis C drug but went forward anyway.  

“This report sheds light on one example of the pricing decisions made by one company with a new prescription medicine that entered the market without competition in high demand,” Grassley said.  “This might be an example that received the most attention in some time, but it won’t be the last.  I look forward to discussions with my colleagues and the public on the policy questions in the report.  I encourage everyone to read the report for the level of detail into pricing strategy that we don’t often see.” 

Grassley and Sen. Ron Wyden released the results of their 18 month investigation into the pricing and marketing of Gilead Sciences’ Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi and its successor, Harvoni.  The investigation draws on internal documents from the company.  These include a chart linking  price points with levels of potential public outcry and an email from a company executive saying the company should “not fold to advocacy pressure” and should “hold our position whatever competitors do or whatever the headlines” on the price.  

The drug went on the market for $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 for a single course of treatment, creating significant expense for Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies.  Iowa and many other states faced significant pressure on their Medicaid programs over the costs, struggling with wanting to give patients access to a landmark treatment and how much taxpayers can afford.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Grassley has weighed in significantly on high prescription drug costs.  Last month, he and Sen. John McCain pressed the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to use her full authority to allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.  

The Sovaldi report, along with more information on the investigation, is available here.  Video of the senators’ news conference unveiling the report is available here.

 

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