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Hep C Drugs in 2016: More Combos and Lower Cost

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While some exciting new drug combos are on the approval horizon, cost concerns will drive interest in Hepatitis C treatment for 2016.

The Price War

Because of the steep prices, many insurance companies and state Medicaid programs will only authorize treatment for those who have the most advanced stages of liver disease. These policies restrict Hepatitis C medications to those with advanced fibrosis, cirrhosis or other extrahepatic manifestations. According to Andrew Aronsohn, MD, assistant professor of medicine at The University of Chicago and an expert on hepatitis treatment, “Really curing Hepatitis C is now within reach for a majority of the patients that we see. The big issue revolves around cost and access to care.”

Two positives that emerged from this Hepatitis C drug price gouging were:

  1. Towards the end of 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a notice to state Medicaid programs that they were breaking the law and should lift the restrictions placed on access to Hepatitis C medications.
  2. Insurance company denials to cover Hepatitis C treatment led to many lawsuits in 2015. Although no judgments have been entered yet, 2016 could set a precedent requiring insurers to pay.

These high prices mostly impact seemingly wealthier countries, like the U.S. However, some of the highly effective Hepatitis C drugs are available elsewhere at a fraction of the cost. Analysts estimate Hepatitis C treatment in chosen locations with access to the generic versions range from $200 to $900. Gilead has licensed sofosbuvir and ledipasvir to some countries (India, Pakistan and Egypt) to make a generic version. In addition, some countries are able to produce Daclatasvir as a generic drug. Because they are much less expensive, experts believe that allowing Hepatitis C medications to be generic is one of the most important strategies for eliminating Hepatitis C worldwide.

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http://hivandhepatitis.com/hcv-policy-advocacy/5522-sofosbuvirdaclatasvir-combination-could-be-produced-for-200-per-hepatitis-c-cure, Sofosbuvir/Daclatasvir Combination Could Be Produced for $200 per Hepatitis C Cure, Keith Alcom, Retrieved January 3, 2016, HIVandHepatitis.com, 2016.

http://hcvadvocate.org/news/NewsUpdates_pdf/Advocate_2016/advocate0116.pdf, Happy New Year! – Top News 2015, Alan Franciscus, Retrieved January 3, 2016, Hepatitis C Support Project, 2016.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/pros-cons-new-hepatitis-treatments-patients/, Pros and Cons of New Hepatitis C Drugs, Anne Harding, Retrieved January 3, 2016, Everyday Health Media, LLC, 2016.

http://www.hepmag.com/articles/2512_18756.shtml, Hepatitis C Treatment-Naïve Recommendations, Retrieved January 3, 2016, Smart + Strong, 2016.

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