John Rother Sends Open Letter to Gilead CEO Listing Steps to Address Unsustainable Drug Pricing

Yesterday’s blockbuster earnings announcement from Gilead underscores how much room the drug manufacturer has to lower the price of its Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi. In fact, nearly all of Gilead’s profits came from its U.S. sales of Sovaldi.

The $3.48 billion that Gilead earned from sales of Sovaldi in the second quarter is only going to increase demands from across the health care system that Gilead lower the price of this $1,000 pill.

With pressure mounting, National Coalition on Health Care’s President John Rother sent an open letter to Gilead CEO John C. Martin laying out three steps that the company can immediately take. The letter comes after a meeting in June where Gilead representatives asked for suggestions for actions the drug maker could take to address concerns in the health care community about sustainable drug pricing. In his letter, Rother wrote:

“To that end our coalition has three requests that would help demonstrate your commitment to responsible pricing:

1.       Substantially lower the pricing of Sovaldi. Based on yesterday’s record-breaking earnings, two points became abundantly clear. First, you will easily recoup the investment you made in purchasing and testing Sovaldi. Second, your company has plenty of financial wherewithal to lower the price. Substantially lowering the price would be an important good faith gesture to the health care system that you understand your responsibility in ensuring everyone can access and afford this treatment.

2.       Pledge not to increase the price for subsequent versions. We understand you plan to introduce new versions that could be used without some of the other drugs that now accompany Sovaldi. Further increasing your price here would be unconscionable and demonstrate contempt for the concerns expressed across the health care stakeholder community.

3.       Commit to greater pricing transparency and advance notice about pricing decisions. Disclose the calculations that you believe justify pricing. Also commit to advance warning of launch prices and price increases to help the system better plan for expensive new therapies.”

See full press release and letter:

Earnings Report Shows Gilead Can Lower Sovaldi’s Unsustainable Price

Earnings Report Shows Gilead Can Lower Sovaldi’s Unsustainable Price

Statement from the National Coalition on Health Care’s President and CEO John Rother on the latest quarterly earnings report from Gilead Sciences, Inc., manufacturer of the hepatitis C drug Sovaldi:

“It’s clear Gilead has plenty of room to reduce the $1000 per pill price in order to ensure patients have access to this critical treatment. It’s this sort of pricing for drugs needed by millions of Americans that is putting unsustainable pressure on patients and the health care system as a whole.”

See full press release:

NCHC Applauds Senate Finance Investigation of Drug Pricing

NCHC Applauds Senate Finance Investigation of Drug Pricing

Statement from National Coalition on Health Care’s CEO John Rother on Senate Finance Committee leadership’s demand for transparency on the astronomical pricing of Gilead’s new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi.

“Over the past months, our efforts have been focused on shining light on unsustainable prices. We believe providing more transparency into how and why drugs are priced is critical to the long-term sustainability and innovation that is a hallmark of a strong health care system.  We applaud Senator Grassley and Senator Wyden for undertaking this critical investigation of high prices for certain prescription drugs.”

See full press release:

National Coalition on Health Care Launches “Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing”

National Coalition on Health Care Launches “Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing”

New Campaign Will Put a Spotlight on Abuse of Market Power in Drug Pricing and Risks to Patients, Taxpayers, and Future Innovation

Washington DC – The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC), today launched the “Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing” to spotlight what the group characterizes as “unsustainable and abusive” prices for some medicines.

The Campaign is led by NCHC President and CEO John Rother and aims to spark a national dialogue about the need to find market-based solutions to the problems caused by the onslaught of new high-priced prescription medicines. Rother pointed specifically to Sovaldi, a drug manufactured by Gilead Pharmaceuticals and used to treat patients with hepatitis C, that has drawn the ire of employers, consumer groups, state Medicaid programs, public health advocates, and payers. The drug is priced at $84,000 per 12 week treatment — or $1,000 per pill, and is often combined with other treatments bringing the total cost closer to $150,000 per patient.

Read more here.

NCHC Appeals to Congress to Get Serious on SGR Reform

Statement from National Coalition on Health Care President and CEO John Rother on the Congressional Debate over SGR Reform

“The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) appeals to Congress to get serious about SGR reform.

Today, the House approved a bill that married otherwise bipartisan reforms with a  politically charged pay-for, a five-year delay of the individual insurance mandate. The only savings that their chosen offset would generate come at the expense of consumers. Millions in state insurance marketplaces would face 10-20% rate hikes, and millions more would go without coverage.

See full press release here:

Patient, Hospital, and Purchaser Groups Call On Hill Leadership To Repeal the SGR this Month

Leading organizations from hospital, health professional, patient advocacy, religious health plan, and employer communities have joined with doctors’ groups to urge action on bipartisan SGR reform by April 1, 2014 in order to align incentives for physicians with higher value care and reward excellence. In a letter released today by the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC), stakeholders urged Congressional leaders to bring the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act (S. 2000/H.R. 4015) to the floor of the House and Senate, along with vital health care “extenders” provisions and appropriate offsets.

See full press release:

Bipartisan Medicare Legislation Offers Solutions for Chronic Disease Costs

Statement by John Rother, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) regarding the introduction of the Lower Cost, Better Care Act of 2013, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Johnny Isakson, Representative Erik Paulsen and Representative Peter Welch

 “This bipartisan legislation offers a solution that the millions of seniors and disabled Americans with chronic conditions require – personalized care tailored to their needs and preferences, delivered by collaborative teams of health care professionals…”

View full press release:

Health Care Experts and Stakeholders Back Bipartisan SGR Repeal Legislation

“As policy experts and representatives of health care stakeholders from across the political spectrum, we strongly support the SGR reform legislation before the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, and urge the Committees to advance this legislation to the full House and Senate.

View Full Press Release:

SGR Reform within Reach Early Next Year… If Congress Can Find the Will

Statement by NCHC President and CEO John Rother on today’s approval of SGR repeal and payment reform legislation by the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees

 “Today’s votes offer the full House and Senate a real opportunity early next year to repeal SGR and deliver better quality care at a lower price… if Congress can find the will to seize it.

View Full Press Release:

NCHC Commends Landmark SGR Reform Proposal from Finance and Ways and Means Committees

Statement by National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) President and CEO John Rother on proposed legislation repealing Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate and reforming physician payment, scheduled for consideration this week by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

NCHC commends Chairmen Camp and Baucus, along with Ranking Members Hatch and Levin, for a landmark proposal that would end the threat of SGR-driven provider cuts and will help keep Medicare affordable over the long-term.

View full press release: