Posts Tagged ‘hepatitis’

All Hepatitis C Patients Deserve Access to Cures

July 28th, 2014

Today is World Hepatitis Day.  We should have much to celebrate. Recent FDA approvals have given liver patients and providers medications with 90-100% cure rates with shorter treatment times, fewer adverse side effects, and easier administration.  Three medical societies issued new guidance to assure that physicians were aware of the transformative nature of the new therapies and had the information needed to treat their patients.

 “Hepatitis C can be cured, and today’s drug therapies are very effective and easier for patients to take.”

— Jeffrey S. Murray, M.D. deputy director, Division of Antiviral Products, FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

However, commercial health insurance plans and state Medicaid officials are restricting coverage to the most effective therapies arguing that the price of the medications — $70,000 -$170, 0000 — is too high to pay in the case of a disease with more than 3 million patients particularly in need.

Their calculations seem not to  have taken into account reductions in:

  • costs of treating severe side effects such as anemia
  • costs of treating progressive and advanced liver disease — End stage liver disease patients incur average annual costs of $59,995
  • costs of treating liver cancer ( the #2 cause of cancer death globally) — $112K annually
  • costs of liver transplant — $more than $500,000 to start, and then high annual costs for medication and monitoring
  • absenteeism
  • presenteeism
  • caregiver lost income and other expenses

Their decision also seems not to have taken into account ethics or morality either. Their main argument is that lots of people need treatment.  There is no other infectious, communicable disease that we deliberately choose, as a matter or policy, to not cure.

My only conclusion is that payors have decided that liver patients are not worth treating. They are saying that the grandfathers, grandmothers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers with hepatitis C ( 2/3 are Baby Boomers) are just not worth saving.  What are you saying with your silence?

Tweet: #HCVmedaccess4all

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FDA Consumer Update:

Payor, not Patient-Focused Narrative

Price Limiting Coverage

Disproportionately affects African Americans and the poor