We’re demanding action on drug prices
By Just Treatment patient leaders Michelle Tolley, Simon Brasch and Clare Groves.
We’re a group of hep C patients who all had to wait years to access the treatment we needed because it was so expensive. This World Hepatitis Day we’re launching our new hepatitis C campaign - Too Long to Wait.
When drug company Gilead brought the drug sofosbuvir to the UK market in 2015 there was reason for optimism - this new drug cured 95% of patients in just 12 weeks, a huge improvement on previous treatments.
But at £34,983 for a 12 week course of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), and £39,000 for a 12 week course of Harvoni (sofosbuvir plus ledipasvir), Gilead’s eye-watering prices meant treatment was rationed on the NHS for the first time ever. All of us were forced to wait years before we could finally get treated.
We’re not the only ones. We know that thousands of others across the UK have had to wait to access treatment, getting more and more ill before being able to access these drugs.
The worst of it is that Gilead’s prices were completely unjustified. Generic (non branded) versions of their drugs are sold at a profit for under £700 per 12 week course in Mongolia, Egypt and Pakistan. Médecins Sans Frontières recently secured a price of $120 per treatment course!
Gilead generated $19bn in sales in 2015 alone from Harvoni and Sovaldi. Their patenting rights in the UK gave them a monopoly - yet the government had the power to overturn this and bring the prices down.
We’re collecting hep C patients’ stories to show the government what the impact is on patient’s lives when they fail to force down high drug prices. We want to make sure that no-one has to wait for treatment they need, and we will use our own experiences to hold the government to account.
So if you are a hep C patient who’s been forced to wait for treatment, we’d love to hear from you. Your story is important - these testimonies will help us to hold the government to account and influence future decisions on drug pricing. You can leave your story below or sign up to receive emails about the campaign here. Thank you!