A special issue of The American Journal of Managed Care brought the topic of funding hepatitis C treatment into the spotlight: covering everything from who has access to the new treatments and what are the out-of-pocket costs, to the anticipated consequences (both economic and clinical) of not getting hepatitis C treatment to the people who need it.
Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D., from the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research at Stanford University School of Medicine served as the Guest Editor-in-Chief for this HCV special issue of The American Journal of Managed Care.
For the millions of Americans with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, the fact that there are now treatments that cure the vast majority of them comes as amazing news. These treatments, which are based on direct-acting antiviral medications, however, come at a relatively high cost. The average 12-week course is $84,000. Some insurance payers limit access of these medications and for patients who do get coverage, it’s typical to have up to $11,000 in out-of-pocket patient costs for HCV treatment. This is important, since research shows that as out-of-pocket costs go up, patient adherence goes down due to abandoned therapy.
If HCV treatment were to be universally covered, so that all of those with HCV were treated, there would be numerous benefits. Although the initial cost would be quite high, universal HCV treatment would actually save billions of health care dollars in the long run, as well as reduce wait times for liver transplants (since many people wouldn’t end up on the transplant list), and provide a high level of social benefits.
As Dr. Bhattacharya sums up the situation succinctly: “There is no point in discovering medical cures if the majority of patients who would benefit cannot afford them.”
Am J Manag Care 2016;22(5 Spec Issue No. 6):SP183-SP184.
Stephen C. Vogt, Pharm.D.
President and CEO
BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy
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