Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Harvoni is a pill that effectively treats those afflicted with Hepatitis C (disease of the liver). Here's the break down of what a 12-week Harvoni treatment costs in the United States and what it costs in other countries, according to ...

Harvoni is the most effective Hepatitis C treatment known to man. Here are the cost of standard 12-week treatment around the world:
  • US – $94,5000
  • Canada – $84,000
  • UK – £39,000
  • France – 48,000€
  • Egypt – $1,200
  • India – $900
  • Germany – 41,000€
If you're wondering - and I'm sure you are - one of the reasons for the price difference between countries has to do with global gaps in how patent law is applied.

In India the Indian Patent Office (in Mumbai) declined patent protection for Harvoni because - among other reasons - they determined that the primary compound of the drug was niether developed as a drug originally, nor was it deemed to be significantly more effective than other compounds submitted (or on file).

Then we have the actions taken by Doctors of the World. They took a look at the molecular structure of sofosbuvir - the primary property in the Harvoni - and objected to the patent filed at the European Patent Office for Harvoni. They argued that the molecular structure of the medicine is based on already known molecules. Put another way, Doctors of the World argue that the "technology" behind the drug is not new, which means that it is not deserving of patent protection.

You can't get a patent for something that's already invented, or already in nature.

For what it's worth, the relatively high price of Harvoni in the United States is justified by R&D costs, a lack of alternative treatments (i.e. monopoly) and/or the fact that a new liver costs about $250,000 in America. I'll let you be the judge as to the merits behind these arguments.

Finally, in the FYI department, this site has information for people looking for alternatives to purchasing Harvoni in the United States.

- Mark

UPDATE: The plot thickens ... From RT, "Congress outraged that cure developed by VA scientist sells for $1k a pill, out of reach to vets"

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