Is there a sovaldi medical tourism industry yet

Sovaldi is the drug that cures Hepatitis C in 90% of people, but costs about $1000 a pill and takes 12 weeks to run a course. I think most western nations are covering the use of this drug, however I believe Australias health system isn’t covering it and I know US insurers (public and private) are trying to find ways to avoid covering it. I have no idea about how many hoops other western nations are going to put in people’s way to avoid being covered but I’m guessing several nations are going to try to avoid providing it due to cost.

My understanding is India and Egypt got deals to obtain the drugs for $10 a pill instead of $1000. And Indian generic manufacturers may make it even cheaper when they export it to 91 countries. So is there a sovaldi medical tourism industry yet, or is it too early for that?

I don’t know if a person from Australia could just mail order the drug from Egypt, or if they’d have to spend 12 weeks in the country. Either way, it would be cheaper to travel to India or Egypt for 3-6 months and buy it there than buying it at the western market price.

I read some articles on the drug and saw many people upset because their insurance wouldn’t cover it, or wanted something like a $20,000 copay.

I am not sure why travel would be needed. Prescription pills go through the mails all the time; it’s just a matter of finding a “reputable” supplier who will do so.

There is the issue that every course of Sovaldi sold to a rich USAian is not going to a likely poorer Indian or Pakistani. Until there’s an essentially unlimited supply, subcontinent suppliers might be more inclined to support (or even gouge) their own people instead of ours.

Then again, there’s the question of why the pills are 1/100 the cost in India. Is it profits, or some heavy subsidy/donation underwriting genuinely high production costs?

I’m guessing part of it is that there is no market for an $84,000 course of treatment in Egypt or India, but a $900 course of treatment could get customers.

Plus I believe India has a history of rejecting patents and making drugs on their own when they are life saving drugs, so maybe this is how the company is trying to prevent India from totally abandoning the patent for Sovaldi, but offering it at a 99% discount.

Why do you need a specific medical tourism industry for so solvaldi? If the prices you quote are real then you can just fly to India on a tourist visa, go visit a good private hospital and get the pills at the discount rate. You’ll probably pay a markup but it will still be far less than the western price.

Half an hours research on Google will find you dozens of high class private hospitals in India and you can email them in advance to make sure they can prescribe solvaldi.

What you are describing is the medical tourism industry. People go online and find out which hospitals will prescribe the drug, then they set up lodging for 12 weeks, have to buy airline tickets, etc.

With the drug costing so much more in the west and some western insurance plans trying to avoid covering it I’m surprised this hasn’t already become a big thing.

Available to some here on the NHS:

is there really that many people that have hep c? its pretty much a third world disease. probably also a lot of the people that do have hep c are IV drug users and can’t afford the airfare overseas so its moot.

According to ECDC, sharing needles is the most common known transmission in Europe (IV drug use but also others such as tattoos), but I know Spain has received “wetbacks” which tested positive for Hep C.

CDC gives a figure of about 3M people with chronic Hep C in the US. That’s 1% of the population, do you still consider that a “third world disease”?

For Canada, about a quarter million people are estimated to be infected, but the page doesn’t separate chronic and acute cases.

This article from Australia mentions that Hep C may actually clean up by itself, rather than chronify. Again, needle sharing is listed as the most common way of infection.

Several of those sources indicate that nowadays blood is tested for Hep C but that this isn’t use to be the case; the article from Australia talks about a patient whose possible means of infection were a tattoo or a blood transfusion he received before that kind of testing was in place. While sharing needles during IV drug use is repeatedly listed as the prime means of transmission for the first world, it is by no means the only one, nor does every junkie stay one his whole life. Hep C isn’t just “an illness of poor people”.

Hep C can also be passed from mothers to babies, but only about 5% of the time. Evenso, if 3 million people have it in the US and half are women, that is a lot of babies infected at birth.

Ideally, the situation will be one where a Dr in the US or Australia writes a Rx for it, then the person mail orders a 12 or 24 week supply from Egypt or India, then takes them at home. that would avoid the need for an overseas trip, seeing a foreign doctor, staying overseas, etc. Total cost would only be a Drs visit and $1000-2000 for the pills. I really really hope there isn’t some back door agreement that India, Egypt, etc. will not export the drugs to western nations which aren’t covering the drug.

Even if there is a backdoor agreement, I could see a black market develop where a Dr in India prescribes the drug to someone in India who doesn’t really have the disease (but is just pretending to have it for a small fee) then the drugs are transferred to the American or Australian.

In the US you can import 3 months worth of non scheduled drugs if you have a prescription. But Canada’s price isn’t much better than the US price.

I don’t have Hep C but find this whole thing very interesting since the US’s health care system is on the brink of large scale failure (medical care is becoming far too expensive and hard to get here).

Damn buzzards! Bang!
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