$1,000-a-pill jolts U.S. health system

Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON -- The latest pill for hepatitis C sounds like a your-money-or-your-life choice.

Sovaldi cures the liver-wasting illness in 9 of 10 patients, but treatment can cost more than $90,000.

Leading medical societies recommend Sovaldi. Patients clamor for it. But insurance companies and state Medicaid programs are gagging on the price. Officials in one state are proposing to limit how many low-income patients can get Sovaldi.

Yet a new pricing survey indicates that if Sovaldi didn't exist, insurers would still be paying in the mid-to-high five figures to treat the most common kind of hepatitis C.

And some of the older alternatives they'd be buying expose patients to more side effects, and are less likely to be a cure.

So it's not that easy to say what a fair price should be.

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