Law pro­fessor Brook Baker at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston, an adviser to Health Global Access Project, or Health GAP, notes that Gilead allows generic man­u­fac­turers to sell its HIV drugs in over 100 countries.

So why not a sim­i­larly large number of coun­tries for the hepatitis C drug?” Baker tells Shots. “An impor­tant ques­tion to ask is what are their access inten­tions for coun­tries that have high hepatitis C burdens?”

For instance, 22 per­cent of people in Egypt are infected with the virus, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion reported, while 3.2 per­cent of Chi­nese have hepatitis C.

The Solvadi pricing issue is “very impor­tant” in the struggle to ensure access to new med­i­cines for those who need them most and can afford them least, Baker says.

The system is broken now,” he says. “Why can’t we have a system that ensures that research and devel­op­ment is paid for without needing to recoup those costs through high prices — most of which is not plowed back into R&D?”

Brook favors an idea gaining cur­rency among critics called delinkage, in which gov­ern­ments sup­port phar­ma­ceu­tical research and devel­op­ment as public good. At the same time, drug­makers largely con­fine them­selves to man­u­fac­turing, mar­keting and distribution.

But such a far-​​reaching reform is not likely to happen overnight. For the fore­see­able future, pricing of new drugs such as Solvadi will be ham­mered out through a com­plex process of busi­ness deci­sions, activist pres­sures, legal claims and the pol­i­tics of affected countries.

Read the article at NPR →