July 14, 2014 -- An investigation into the pricing of the hepatitis C drug Sovaldi has been launched by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
The drug -- made by Gilead Sciences Inc. -- costs about $1,000 a pill, or about $84,000 for a patient on a standard, 12-week treatment schedule, the Wall Street Journal reported.
On Friday, the senate committee sent a letter to Gilead announcing the investigation and requesting documents on how the company decided on the price, which has been widely criticized.
"Although Sovaldi has the potential to help people with HCV, at $1,000 per pill, its pricing has raised serious concerns about the extent to which the market for this drug is operating efficiently and rationally," the letter stated. "Given the impact Sovaldi's cost will have on Medicare, Medicaid and other federal spending, we need a better understanding of how your company arrived at the price for this drug."
The letter noted that Sovaldi is offered at steep discounts in some other countries. For example, it can be up to 99 percent cheaper in Egypt than in the United States, WSJ reported.
Gilead has received the letter and will cooperate with the investigation, a company spokeswoman said. Previously, Gilead has said Sovaldi's high price reflects its effectiveness at curing hepatitis C infection.