(Bloomberg) -- As Gilead Sciences Inc. touted its $1,000-a-pill hepatitis C cure to investors in a hotel ballroom in San Francisco, a group of about 20 protesters milled outside. “Gilead=Greed,” one sign read.
“I’m glad people have the new drugs, but I’m concerned about the prices,” said Orlando Chavez, 62, a hepatitis C and HIV counselor and one of the protesters on Jan. 13. He worries that insurers will see Gilead’s price and force patients to try a less effective, older and cheaper therapy first, he said.
Besides payers already have plenty of tools to push back on costs and force patients to try cheaper medicines first, and they use them, said the drug industry’s Washington trade group, Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America. “Typically by the time the patients get through the various steps they need to get to the product, they really do need it,” said Lori Reilly, PhRMA’s head of policy.
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