New HIV Drug Comes With a High Price

Stribild combines four drugs in one daily pill

(RxWiki News) It's never cheap to treat a life-long disease. A debate about the cost of HIV treatment has sprung up with the approval of a new drug that some say is too expensive for patients.

In the case of Stribild, Gilead Science's new four-in-one pill for HIV, the costs might be as high as $27,000 - $34,000 per patient each year.

The advantage for patients is that it's easier to adhere to a one pill, once-a-day regimen than to take multiple drugs – the way that anti-retroviral therapy has traditionally been delivered.

Adhering to medication therapy is extremely important in suppressing the HIV virus.

"Consider the cost & benefit of all medications."

Formerly called Quad, the drug combines four drugs in one daily pill. The FDA approved the drug on August 27, and it's being sold under the brand name Stribild.

The drug was found to be slightly more effective than Gilead's Atripla, a three-in-one daily pill for HIV. Stribild is expected to be 38 percent more expensive than Atripla.

Stribild carries the toughest 'boxed warning' from the FDA, stating the medication can cause a buildup of lactic acid in the blood and severe liver problems. Both of these can be fatal.

Gilead has frozen its prices for existing drugs through 2013 for state assistance programs like California's ADAP.

But it's also an economic issue for private insurance companies. 

Gilead will provide discounts to state assistance programs and has set up a patient financial assistance program, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Update:  Deutsche Bank's Robyn Karnauskas told Bloomberg she estimates that about 35% of new HIV patients will use the drug.

Review Date: 
August 27, 2012