The great Black activist and artist Paul Robeson in 1958, in Carnegie Hall, sang the gospel song, “Balm in Gilead”: “♪There is a balm in Gilead, ♪To make the wounded whooole♪ ….” These words in song sprang back from over half a century, when the news emerged of a big pharmaceutical, Gilead Sciences, Inc., buying the drug Sofosbuvir – and then tripling its preferred price – to treat hundreds of thousands of people suffering from Hepatitis C.
Attorneys filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts this week on behalf of prisoners who say they’re being denied new lifesaving treatment for Hepatitis C because of the cost of the drugs. Gilead Sciences manufactures two versions of the cure, Harvoni and Sovaldi. Abbvie Pharmaceutical Limited, formerly Abbot Labs, manufactures another, Viekira Pak. The cost of any one of the three is roughly $90,000.