Sovaldi and Olysio: New Oral Meds for Hepatitis C

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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The FDA recently approved two new oral medications that can be used in combination with the current antiviral regimen or to replace the injectable component of the regimen, peginterferon alfa.

The two new products are Olysio (simeprevir) capsules and Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) tablets. Both work by stopping the replication of the Hepatitis C virus.

Olysio 150 mg capsules are a once-daily treatment that must be used in combination with pegylated interferon (peginterferon alfas like Pegasys or Pegintron) and ribavirin. It cannot be used as monotherapy, which means it can’t be used alone. The wholesale price for a 12-week course of this medication will be $66,360 per the manufacturer, Janssen.

Sovaldi 400 mg tablets are a once-daily treatment that can be used without the injectable peginterferon alfa. This is the big news here because the peginterferon alfa injectable often contributes to patients not finishing their course of Hep C therapy, mainly due to the unfavorable side effects. Discontinuation of peginterferon alfa is primarily due to side effects including flu-like symptoms, psychiatric, or stomach problems. The wholesale price for 12 weeks will be $84,000 per the manufacturer, Gilead.

Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver and is often undetectable. It can be contracted from contaminated blood, most commonly by needles shared through illicit drug use, and affects more than 3 million people in the United States. Hepatitis C is the leading contributor to liver cancer and liver transplants.

The GoodRx Pharmacist

Olysio has a co-pay assistance program for insured patients, and resources for financial assistance for Medicare, Medicaid, and uninsured patients. You can find more information here. Sovaldi has not been launched yet, but with the high price tag, there will also likely be assistance programs from the manufacturers or other resources to help cover the cost. With less expensive established therapies available, it’s possible that many insurance plans will not cover one or both new medications.

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