Gilead Counters AbbVie With Exclusive Hepatitis C Drug Deal of Its Own

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune/TNS) - CVS Health announced Monday that it plans to make Gilead Sciences’ hepatitis C drugs the exclusive option for most of its consumers starting Wednesday.

The announcement comes two weeks after Express Scripts, the nation’s largest manager of prescription-drug benefits, said it would solely offer AbbVie’s hepatitis C drug, Viekira Pak, beginning Jan. 1. AbbVie substantially cut the price of the recently FDA-approved drug to win the deal with Express Scripts.

“(CVS) has completed a thorough evaluation of the existing and new hepatitis C therapies that are now available in the marketplace,” CVS spokeswoman Christine Cramer said in an email. “Our goal was to create the lowest net-cost solution for the entire population of patients with all genotypes of hepatitis C.”

Twelve-week treatments of hepatitis C drugs can hover close to $100,000. A CVS spokesperson declined to say whether Gilead offered the company a discount on its drugs Harvoni and Sovaldi. Express Scripts similarly didn’t say how steep of a price cut AbbVie gave it on the $83,319 wholesale cost of the drug.

When Express Scripts and AbbVie announced their deal on Dec. 22, Gilead shares tumbled 14.3 percent, or $15.55, to $92.90. On Monday, Gilead shares rose $1.88, or 2 percent, to $96.79.

“Gilead is very pleased to have reached an agreement with CVS,” Gilead spokeswoman Amy Flood said in an email, declining to comment further.