FOSTER CITY (KCBS) — Gilead Sciences has made billions of dollars from its hepatitis C blockbuster drug Sovaldi, and is now looking to give away the expensive treatment in some countries in an effort to eradicate the disease.

Gilead is trying to raise funding by forming a coalition of governments and multinational agencies, as has been done with global efforts to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

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The program will start by giving the $1,000-dollar-a-pill Sovaldi to 5,000 patients in the republic of Georgia this year, and to 20,000 more each year after.

Georgia has the third most hepatitis C cases in the world. Its population of around five million and current viral screening systems make it ideal for scientific study, Gilead’s head of corporate and medical affairs Greg Alton told Reuters.

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But Gilead says it will need funding in order for other countries to get the drug for free or heavily subsidized.

“We will take the Georgia data to other countries around the world to really make the case that investment can fundamentally change the disease over time,” Alton told Reuters. “Gilead cannot cure hepatitis C globally on our backs alone. There have to be other players that come in and make that investment.”

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