That Gent, Ed — Over At Pharmalot — On Gilead’s Latest Hep C “Social Experiment Cure” In Former Soviet Nation

I think it is laudable that Gilead is even thinking of doing this. The immediate commitment is to 5,000 patients, but the goal — in this rugged, rather isolated mountainous region — is to arrest the virus, and perhaps eliminate it — along with the debilitating secondary effects, from an entire country. That’s going to be over 120,000 free courses of treatment.

I’m no epidemiologist, but perhaps Gilead picked Georgia because not many people travel there, and then leave, given the rugged terrain. Thus reinfection rates, from tourists, for example, might be minimized. [Rather sadly, I do have to wonder why a similarly rugged region of Africa was not chosen, for this social experiment. Certainly, the burden of disease is similar, in some Africa nations.]

Gilead I gather thinks governmental forces in Georgia might ultimately reimburse it, or that other Central Europeans might take note — and reimburse, country, by country. As we’ve reported — the company in March of 2014, dropped its price from $1,000 a pill to $10 — in Egypt and up to 91 poorer nations. [Of course, some generic manufacturers are launching “at risk” in many of these countries at prices even below that.] I will keep track of this, as it would be quite a feat to eliminate the scourge of Hep C from an entire geography. Here’s a bite from Ed Silverman — do go read it all:

. . . .Nearly 7% of adults in Georgia are estimated to be infected with hepatitis C, according to the World Health Organization. Alton believes as many as 120,000 people may be infected, which is a sufficiently small population to gauge the effects of the program in a few years.

Alton maintains this is “not just a charitable project. We really see value in the data that can come out of this. . . We want to show if you treat everybody you’ll reduce prevalence of the disease.”

Alton acknowledges, though, that the results may favorably influence reimbursement decisions and guidelines formed by government agencies. The program, by the way, has the backing of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. . . .

I genuinely applaud Gilead management here. Scantly sleeping, of late. Oh well. Onward.

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