Sovaldi, for hepatitis C, was the most important new medicine approved
this year. It heralds the hope that a viral disease that afflicts more
than 3 million Americans, can be treated with a few pills– or even one –
and that doctors and scientists may be able to dramatically reduce the
toll of the infection, which can cause liver failure and death.
The benefit to society will only increase when Gilead launches a
combination pill next year that, in clinical studies, result in
sustained elimination of the virus in more than 9 out of 10 patients
with the most common ‘genotype 1′ version of the disease. Analysts
forecast Sovaldi will generate as much as $3 billion in annual sales in
2014, a new record for a drug launch, with sales going up from there.