In an emailed statement, a Gilead spokeswoman responded to questions about Sovaldi's price by saying, "unlike treatment for other chronic diseases, Sovaldi offers a cure … at a price that significantly reduces Hepatitis C treatment costs and delivers significant savings to the healthcare system over the long-term."
Together, Sovaldi and Harvoni generated $12.4 billion in sales for Gilead last year. The company's CEO, John C. Martin, is a billionaire. Gilead's revenues doubled last year, and as the New York Times wrote, the company "now is faced with figuring out what to do with all the cash it is generating."
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Last year, New Mexico's Human Services Department issued a rule that required patients to show that they have Stage 3 or Stage 4 liver fibrosis before Medicaid will cover them for drugs like Sovaldi.
In Stage 4, the liver is "hard as a rock," Sanjeev Arora, a University of New Mexico physician, told the Albuquerque Journal. "Treating someone for Hepatitis C after they have developed cirrhosis is a little bit like closing the barn door after the horse has left." While they wait to develop cirrhosis, Hep C patients face a higher risk of developing depression, nerve pain, and lymphoma.
When low-income Hep C patients come to see Bush, she'll assure them that she wants to see them cured. "I will at all costs try to get you the medication," she says.