Insurer Aetna gets discounts, gives preference to Gilead's hepatitis C drugs over AbbVie's

Insurer Aetna has made new hepatitis C drugs from Gilead Sciences Inc. preferred treatments for customers with the liver-destroying virus.

Aetna Inc. says it's reached a deal with Gilead bringing discounts for Sovaldi and Harvoni, which have list prices of about $84,000 and $94,000, respectively, for a course of treatment.

Aetna's decision follows moves by two huge prescription benefit managers, Express Scripts and CVS, to wring big discounts from makers of a new generation of hepatitis C medicines that cure nearly all patients, in as little as eight weeks.

Viekira Pak, AbbVie Inc.'s combo treatment, was launched last month at a list price of about $83,300.

Aetna's deal affects customers who get their health care coverage from an employer or a health care exchange, or just over 10.8 million people.