FDA approves first pill to treat all forms of hepatitis C

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FDA approves first pill to treat all forms of hepatitis C

A new option is now FDA-approved for the treatment of hepatitis C.

Federal health officials on Tuesday approved the first pill to treat all major forms of hepatitis C, the latest in a series of drug approvals that have reshaped treatment of the liver-destroying virus.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the combination pill, Epclusa, from Gilead Sciences for patients with and without liver damage. The new drug’s broad indication could make it easier to use than five other hepatitis drugs recently approved by the FDA, which are each tailored to different viral strains or stages of liver disease.

Gilead’s previous two hepatitis drugs have raked in billions of dollars by replacing an older, less effective treatment that involved a grueling pill-and-injection cocktail. But the company’s aggressive approach to pricing has drawn scorn from patient groups, insurers and politicians worldwide.

The company said Epclusa will cost $74,760 for a 12-week course of treatment, or roughly $890 per pill. That’s less than the initial price for company’s previous drug, Harvoni, which cost $1,125 per pill. Gilead’s first hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, cost roughly $1,000 per pill, touching off a national debate about escalating drug costs.

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