(Yicai Global) Nov. 28 -- American biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences Inc. [NASDAQ:GILD] said yesterday that its first-generation oral hepatitis C (Hep C) drug Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), which went on sale in mainland China three days ago, is priced at USD2,976 (CNY19,660) per bottle, meaning a 12-week course of treatment would cost CNY58,980, which is cheaper than it was in the US when it debuted there.
A course of treatment with Sovaldi cost USD84,000 when the drug first became available in the US. The market has become increasingly competitive after Gilead unveiled Harvoni and Epclusa, its second- and third-generation Hep C drugs, and companies such as Johnson & Johnson [NYSE:JNJ] (J&J) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. [NYSE:BMY] (BMS) worked to develop Hep C drugs.
Medicare negotiations and the fact that BMS and others offer direct-acting antiviral (DAA) small molecule drugs in China forced Gilead to price Sovaldi relatively cheaply for its introduction to the Chinese market, Shanghai Kedi Health Management Consulting Co. founder Yang Chen told Yicai Global.
A course of treatment for Hep C with daclatasvir (DCV) and Asunaprevir offered by BMS costs around CNY50,000.
Sofosbuvir must be used with DCV to treat all-genotype Hep C. DCV costs CNY20,000 for a course of treatment, meaning a Hep C patient needs to spend nearly CNY80,000 to receive Sofosbuvir and DCV treatments, said Wang Hui, deputy director of Ruijin Hospital's infectious disease division.
"No other all-genotype Hep C drugs are available in the mainland market at the moment, though such drugs are usually quite expensive," Wang said, adding that many patients used to go to the US or India to buy such drugs before Sofosbuvir was available in China.
China has around 10 million patients with hepatitis C virus infections, making it one of the countries with the largest number of such patients, per guidelines on Hep C prevention from 2015. Several multinational drug producers including BMS, J&J and Gilead have applied to the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) to sell Hep C DAA drugs in the country since last year.
Gilead applied to the CFDA in March to sell Sofosbuvir in China, making it the fifth multinational pharmaceutical company to apply to offer Hep C DAA drugs in mainland China. The CFDA gave priority to the review of Sofosbuvir's application and approved the drug in September.