why was the price so high?

There was no justification for Gilead to charge this price.

Caz Challis 2.jpg

Caz Challis, former hep C patient, Devon

"Hepatitis C is a curable disease, that, if picked up early, with routine screening, is unlikely to have far reaching health consequences. However if left, it can lead to liver cancer and many other health issues, and eventually to liver failure, costing far, far more than the cure in every sense. If the cure exists people deserve access…"
Caz is admin of Hepatitis C Family and Friends

The initial research and development of sofosbuvir was carried out at Emory University in the US with a substantial amount of public funding. A company which held the rights to the drug, Pharmasset, spun out of the university in 1998 and was bought by Gilead for $11.2bn in 2012. 

In late 2013 Gilead launched Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) in the US at a cost of $84,000 for a 12 week treatment course. This price tag caused outrage in the States and led to an 18 month Senate committee investigation.

The investigation concluded that the price had little, if anything, to do with the cost of developing the drug, but instead was based on the expectation by Gilead that the high price would set a benchmark for future drugs. 

Gilead’s next hep C drug, Harvoni (a mix of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir), came to the market with a $94,500 price tag. 

Gilead generated $19bn in sales in 2015 alone from Harvoni and Sovaldi.