WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health and Gilead Sciences have reached a deal to make Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs, Harvoni and Sovaldi, the exclusive option for patients on its commercial drug list, as well as for those it manages on health care exchanges, Medicare Part D and Medicaid.
The move partly counteracts a recent decision by Express Scripts Inc. to make AbbVie’s Viekira Pak the exclusive option for most patients in its main commercial plan.
Although physicians have praised both medications as breakthroughs against the viral disease, some health plans, state Medicaid programs and prison systems said they could not afford to treat everyone at prices projected at $84,000 ($1,000 per daily pill) for Sovaldi and $94,500 ($1,125 per daily pill) for Harvoni, both for 12 weeks of treatment.
More than 3 million people in the United States are infected with the hepatitis C virus, which gradually destroys the liver.
CVS said in a statement that its goal was “to create the lowest net-cost solution for the entire population of patients” with hepatitis C. The company based its decision on a clinical review of various hepatitis C drugs and their costs.
Viekira Pak is priced at $83,319 per patient for 12 weeks.
According to RBC Capital Markets, worldwide sales of newer hepatitis C treatments reached about $13 billion last year. It forecasts the hepatitis C drug market in 2015 will be $18.5 billion.
Express Scripts said it would receive a discount from AbbVie, and would make Viekira Pak available to all patients regardless of their disease severity and exclude from its formularies Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs for patients with genotype 1, the most common form of the disease.