Hepatitis C ‘Buyers’ Club’ Highlights Issues Surrounding Access To Drugs

New York Times: The Tasmanian Hep C Buyers’ Club
Sophie Cousins, health journalist

“…[After traveling to India to obtain the less-expensive generic version of the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, Australian Greg Jefferys] helped other former hepatitis C sufferers set up informal buyers’ clubs in their own countries. … Narcyz Ghinea, a researcher in health ethics at the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, says the online facilitation of access to unapproved drugs raises a lot of questions. … Ghinea believes the popularity of personal importation could become a powerful negotiating tool to reduce drug prices. But he worries that the purchase of cheaper generic drugs overseas could undercut the market and reduce pharmaceutical companies’ incentive to develop drugs … It could also compromise discount plans provided to low-income countries. Another risk is that the drugs could be fakes. … But those who run the informal buyers’ clubs insist they work only with licensed pharmaceutical suppliers. … Personal importation is not the way the world will get access to a hepatitis C cure. It’s a short-term stopgap for a few, one that highlights problems with drug costs, access, and the role regulatory bodies play…” (7/25).