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Capitol Health Call
July 14, 2015

Senator Urges VA to “Break” Patents for High-Cost Hepatitis C Drugs

JAMA. 2015;314(2):115. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.7534

Sen Bernie Sanders (I, Vt) has urged Robert McDonald, secretary of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to enlist third parties to manufacture the patented hepatitis C drugs in the interest of facilitating cost-effective treatment (http://1.usa.gov/1T1LN0S) for veterans, who are infected at a rate 3 times higher than that of the general US population (http://1.usa.gov/1KK1ZOR). The letter references the drug Solvadi (sofosbuvir), a medication used to treat hepatitis C that is manufactured by Gilead Sciences. The medication is currently priced at $1000 per pill, or $84 000 for a full course of treatment. In his letter, Sanders cited a legal statute that would allow Gilead to seek reimbursement from the VA in federal claims court.

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