By Ellen Jean Hirst

CVS Health announced Monday that it plans to make Gilead Sciences' hepatitis C drugs the exclusive option for most of its consumers starting Wednesday.

The announcement comes two weeks after Express Scripts, the nation's largest manager of prescription drug benefits, said it would solely offer AbbVie's hepatitis C drug, Viekira Pak, beginning Jan. 1. AbbVie substantially cut the price of the recently FDA-approved drug to win the deal with Express Scripts.

"(CVS) has completed a thorough evaluation of the existing and new hepatitis C therapies that are now available in the marketplace," CVS spokeswoman Christine Cramer said in an email. "Our goal was to create the lowest net-cost solution for the entire population of patients with all genotypes of hepatitis C."

Twelve-week treatments of hepatitis C drugs can hover close to $100,000. A CVS spokesperson declined to say whether Gilead offered the company a discount on its drugs Harvoni and Sovaldi. Express Scripts similarly didn't say how steep of a price cut AbbVie gave it on the $83,319 wholesale cost of the drug.

When Express Scripts and AbbVie announced their deal on Dec. 22, Gilead shares tumbled 14.3 percent, or $15.55 to $92.90. Gilead shares rose $2.26, or 2.4 percent, to $97.17 in mid-afternoon trading on Monday.

"Gilead is very pleased to have reached an agreement with CVS," Gilead spokeswoman Amy Flood said in an email, declining to comment further.

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