Sofosvel with $840 Price Tag To Save Hepatitis C Patients Faster?

Two months after Epclusa, the world's first pan-genotypic Hepatitis C medicine, was launched, a Bangladesh-based company has managed to create the first generic version of Epclusa. The new medicine known as Sofosvel is a complete copy of the original Epclusa with one major difference – Epclusa (400mg sofosbuvir/100mg velpastavir) costs $74,760 per treatment; while Sofosvel (400mg sofosbuvir/100mg velpastavir) cost can be as low as $840 for the same treatment.

Sofosvel

Ever since of discovery of antiviral molecule sofosbuvir in late 2013, Hepatitis C is considered a curable disease. A number of drugs such as Sovaldi, Harvoni and Viekira Pak gave doctors the ability to heal Hepatitis C patients with more than 95% success. This rich research activity was championed by the discovery of Epclusa – the world's first medicine that is effective for all Hepatitis C genotypes. Sofosvel is a generic version of Epclusa.

sofosvel india team with james freeman
Sofosvel development team with Dr. James Freeman

Having the ability to cure genotype 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 patients, Epclusa was warmly accepted with one problem; the cost  of treatment with Epclusa is $74,760. This is lower than existing medicines such as Sovaldi and Harvoni, but a great majority of patients were still unable to cover such great cost of treatment.

This is why Sofosvel is such a savior. Having a Hepatitis C cure that only a few can afford and that is usually not covered by medical insurance is of little use. Sofosvel, created by Beacon Pharma, is essentially a perfect copy of costly Epclusa with a considerable lower price tag.

Sofosvel price in India, Bangladesh and other countries

The cost of Sofosvel, combined with it's above 95% cure rate, is the main reason why Hepatitis C patients from all over the world opt to buy generic Epclusa instead of the original medicine.

The low price of Sofosvel in India is very important for healing patients who are unable to afford the original. Currently, Sofosvel is being shipped to the US, the UK and European countries, including Russia. Hepatitis C patients reach out to suppliers themselves and Sofosvel suppliers readily help with shipping and handling of the Sofosvel.

The greatest exporter of Sofosvel is India. For all patients in need, here is a quick calculation about how much Sofosvel in India costs:

  • Sofosvel standard treatment lasts for 12 weeks with a regimen of 1 pill per day
  • Sofosvel is sold in boxes of 6 pills/tablets
  • Standard treatment requires 84 pills or 14 boxes
  • 1 box of Sofosvel costs $60

In short, for a full treatment a patient needs 14 boxes of Sofosvel, each with a price tag of $102. This means that cost of treatment with Sofosvel is $840. Click To Tweet The shipping of Sofosvel from India is charged extra but generally does not cost more than $50.

If you can find a supplier of generic Hepatitis C medicines from India, you should get the necessary medicines at more than $70,000 discount. This is a direct consequence of an open market; for example, the costly US medical system is often being scrutinized. Patients for various kinds of surgeries and specific medicines are traveling to Canada and Europe as well as India to save money on medical services and generic medicines.

Is the import of sofosbuvir/velpatasvir generic pills from India legal?

sofosvel 6 tablets package
Sofosbuvir box with 6 tablets.

With Hepatitis C medicines being produced and sold for a fraction of the cost outside the US and EU, the issues of legal import are constantly being raised. In short, can a patient buy Sofosvel in India and bring it back in the US? Can he or she order Sofosver online and have it shipped to the home address?
Dr. James Freeman, a Hepatitis C activist and medical professional, pointed out that goods importation and exportation is covered by the World Trade Organization Agreement. Here is an Article 60 from WTOA that talks about exchange of good for personal use:

import of drugs for personal use
Article of WTO that allows import of drugs for personal use.

Buying of sofosbuvir/velpatasvir or other generic medications in India and other countries

According to the Article above, ‘small quantities of goods of a non-commerical nature contain in travellers' personal luggage' are excluded from restrictions posed by WTOA. 12-weeks worth of generic medicines for Hepatitis C treatment of an individual patient seem to fall in that category. Of course, one must not buy sofosbuvir/velpatasvir medications on bulk and sell them later on.

Looking at it rationally – most of us travel with prescription medicines and would never consider checking them at the airport or report them in any way. Why would Hepatitis C medications be covered any differently?

Buying Sofosvel online, and shipping

The Article 60 also points out that non-commercial goods for individual use can be ‘sent in small consignments'. If you buy Sofosvel online, you would be shipped 14 boxes of medicines which count as ‘small consignment'.

On the other hand, one would not think twice about buying online and shipping of goods from eBay, Amazon or Alibaba.

Credible online suppliers of Sofosvel

Finding a credible online supplier of Sofosvel is another matter. Sofosbuvir/velpatasvir pills are sold in the US for about $1,000 per pill. This can be a big incentive for anybody wanting to earn money by selling low-quality and unchecked medications.

The problem with buying medications online is that you cannot be sure if what you're getting is really 400mg sofosbuvir and 100mg velpatasvir pills. Even if you do later discover the medications were not effective, getting the money back is very difficult. Needless to say, the greatest cost is the time a patient spent taking fake medications.

This is why you have to be sure you are buying from a credible Sofosvel online supplier.

Generic Epclusa development – Story of Sofosvel

Here is how the development of generic medicines in the pharmaceutical industry works:

  1. Originator develops an innovative medicine and holds a patient on it for 20-25 years. The price of medicine is usually very high to cover for research and development, marketing costs, and of course profit.
  2. After this time generic companies can create perfect duplicates of originator's medications. Suddenly, there is a generic competition because generic medications are of same quality and effectiveness as originators.
  3. The price of the medicines drops dramatically, even as much as 90-99% of the originator's cost.

The case of Epclusa is special; the originator allowed some companies to create generic versions of Epclusa before the patient's expiry. This is why the launch of first generic Sofosvel only 2 months after the launch of originator's Epclusa (and not 20-25 years).

This is why the price point fell from $74,760 to $1,428. 

Sofosvel, as a generic medicine, must have the same (to a certain point) characteristics as the original Epclusa in order to get FDA approval as a generic. The company that created first replicas of sofosbuvir/velpatasvir pills had to show that these pills are the same as the one from the originator's.

More generic versions of Epclusa expected in 2016 and 2017

The originator of Epclusa licensed more than 11 companies to create not only sofosbuvir/velpatasvir generics, but sofosbuvir and sofosbuvir/ledipasvir generics as well.

Thus far only one company managed to create the Epclusa generic; however, all of the companies with the licenses are on their way to launch their own versions.

Here at Hepatitis C Society of NDA we will inform you on the development of other generics and anything related to Hepatitis C and its treatment.

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