Drugmaker wins approval for breakthrough hepatitis C drug, but price remains an issue

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Federal health officials have approved a daily pill that can cure the most common form of hepatitis C without the grueling pill-and-injection cocktail long used to treat the virus.

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It was not immediately clear how much the drug from Gilead Sciences would cost. But the $1,000-per-pill price tag for the company's previous hepatitis drug has recently drawn scorn from patient groups, insurers and politicians worldwide.

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it cleared the new combination pill, Harvoni, for patients with genotype 1 of hepatitis C, a form of the liver-destroying virus that accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. cases. For the first time these patients will not have to take a combination of antiviral pills and shots that causes flu-like side effects.

Gilead Sciences Inc. is based in Forest City, California.