KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Aetna Raises Earnings Outlook

In other market news, coverage continues of the cost and effectiveness of Sovaldi, a new drug to treat hepatitis C, and the related earnings gained by Gilead Sciences, its manufacturer.  

The Wall Street Journal: Aetna Raises Outlook On Strong Quarterly Growth
The company raised its full-year operating earnings forecast to $6.35 to $6.55 a share from its prior view of at least $6.25 a share. The insurer in February said it expects to lose money on its business in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces this year, with the demographics of enrollees skewing slightly more than expected toward people likely to rack up higher costs. Still, the company noted that individual insurance represents a small part of operating revenue (Rubin, 4/24).

NPR: Costly Hepatitis C Pill Shreds Drug Industry Sales Record
The launch of Sovaldi, the $1,000-a-day pill for hepatitis C, is shaping up as the most successful ever. The Food and Drug Administration approved the pill in December. And then Gilead Sciences was off to the races. The company said it sold $2.27 billion worth of Sovaldi in the quarter that ended March 31. $2.27 billion! The boffo number beat Wall Street's estimate for the quarter by more than $1 billion (Hensley, 4/23).

PBS NewsHour: New Hepatitis-C Drug Raises Hope At A Hefty Price
A new drug has a 90 to 100 percent chance of curing the Hepatitis-C virus, but costs tens of thousands of dollars for a course of treatment. The announcement by the manufacturer that it earned more than $2 billion in the year’s first quarter raises the question, who should pay when drugs are highly effective, but extremely expensive? Hari Sreenivasan reports on the profits, coverage and costs (Sreenivasan, 4/23).

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