Patent, schmatent

Gotta say, didn’t see this coming. Recently, Gilead announced “plans to launch authorized generic versions of Epclusa and Harvoni, Gilead’s leading treatments for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), in the US, through a newly created subsidiary, Asegua Therapeutics. The authorized generics will launch at a list price of $24,000 for the most common course of therapy and will be available in Jan 2019.” Wait a minute. The patents for these products do not expire for another 10 years. What gives? According to Gilead, “due to the complexity and structure of the US healthcare system, discounts provided by Gilead may not always translate into lower costs for patients.” Take that US healthcare system. That said, we guess Gilead had to try something as they have seen Hep C product sales drop from ~$19B in 2015 to a 2018 estimate of ~$4B. Ouch.