The Food and Drug Administration gave approval to the new hepatitis C pill by Gilead Sciences, which said that the treatment will cost $94,500 over an improved 12-week-long treatment that looks to eliminate the viral infection before it destroys the livers of patients.

The amount required for the treatment is equivalent to a staggering $1,125 per day, which has led Gilead to receive newfound criticism for the cost of its products.

The pill, which will be sold with the Harvoni brand name, combines the $84,000 Sovaldi pill of Gilead with ledipasvir, another drug which will eliminate the need for two other treatments that are laden with side effects but were required to be taken with Sovaldi.

According to Gilead, the current treatment with Sovaldi, including the cost of the pill and the two other drugs taken with it, namely ribavirin and interferon, had a total cost of $94,726.

The company emphasizes that the new form of treatment presented by Harvoni actually costs less than the previous treatment over a 12-week program.

In addition, the company said that almost half of the patients suffering from the most common form of hepatitis C, which were previously untreated, can be cured from the disease after taking Harvoni for only eight weeks, which would cost only $63,000, compared to the full 12-week program required by Sovaldi.

However, Gilead continues to receive backlash from health insurance companies with the massive cost of its Hepatitis C treatments, saying that the cost is still unsustainable.

"Unfortunately, we believe that the price being demanded is still inappropriately high for a product targeting such a large group of patients," said Express Scripts Holding spokesman David Whitrap.

Express Scripts Holding is the biggest pharmacy benefit program manager in the U.S.

"New innovations do not always require inappropriate, premium pricing," added Whitrap.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is withdrawing its application for approval of an oral, two-drug treatment for hepatitis C due to competition. However, AbbVie is expected to receive word from the FDA within the year regarding an all-oral regimen to combat the disease.

"As the additional hepatitis C drugs are approved over the next few months, we're looking forward to driving more competition in this space," Whitrap said.

Gilead is expecting to rake in almost $12 billion in sales for hepatitis C drugs globally this year. However, it is putting a huge burden on Medicaid health insurance programs due to its very high cost, in addition to the fact that most victims of the disease have low incomes and could only afford the drug through such programs.

"There is no doubt that Sovaldi is a great advance in the treatment of HCV, but it won't do any good if no one can afford it," said Medicaid Health Plans of America president and CEO Jeff Myers.

Hepatitis C, which is estimated to affect about 3.2 million in the United States, can lead to liver inflammation and eventually, liver failure. 

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