New Drugs: 1 Pricey, 1 Risky

Mar 24, 2014

A new drug hailed as a breakthrough against hepatitis C comes at a price that  puts treatment out of reach for most who need the medication -- $84,000 for a standard 12-week course of Sovaldi, manufactured by Gilead Sciences.

With an increase of hepatitis C diagnoses, this has left insurance companies and Medicaid directors struggling over how to pay for the drug, the Tampa Bay Times reports.  An activist group is trying to find ways of forcing Gilead to lower the price of Sovaldi, noting that it costs $1,000 a pill.

The previous standard for treating the disease comes with painful side effects and a cure rate of less than 50 percent.

Meanwhile, in a separate article, the Tampa Bay Times writes about a new pain medication that received FDA approval over the objections of many because of the ease of abuse.  Zohydro, a capsule of pure hydrocodone, is designed to be released  a bit at a time over f 12 hours, but addicts can take it apart and down the entire dose for an intense high.

Another thing that concerned a committee of experts was its potency: Two capsules could kill an adult, and one could kill a child. The committee voted against approval, but FDA approved it.

Florida may be at particular risk because it has many pain-pill addicts, and only a tiny fraction of physicians check the state's drug database before writing a prescription.