TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Wonder drug for hepatitis C has $90,000 price tag

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 8:36 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — Your money or your life?

Sovaldi, a new pill for hepatitis C, cures the liver-wasting disease in 9 of 10 patients, but treatment can cost more than $90,000.

Leading medical societies recommend the drug as a first-line treatment, and patients are clamoring for it. But insurance companies and state Medicaid programs are balking at the price. In Oregon, officials propose to limit how many low-income patients can get Sovaldi.

Yet if Sovaldi didn't exist, insurers would still be paying in the mid-to-high five figures to treat the most common kind of hepatitis C, a new pricing survey indicates. Some of the older alternatives involve more side effects, and are less likely to provide cures.

So what's a fair price?

The cost of this breakthrough drug is highlighting cracks in the health care system at a time of heightened budget concerns. The Obama administration has a huge political stake in controlling treatment costs, but its critics may cry rationing.

“People are going to want to try to dodge this hot potato,” says economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

For insurers, there's a frustrating twist: For each middle-aged person they pay to cure with Sovaldi, any financial benefits from preventing liver failure are likely to accrue to Medicare, not to them.

More than 3 million Americans carry the hepatitis C virus, and many don't realize it. It's a public health concern since the disease can be transmitted by contact with infected blood, and sometimes through sexual activity. Health officials advise all baby boomers to get tested.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Clinton: Women ‘expect’ extremism from terrorists, not GOP candidates
  2. People who knew Virginia TV station shooter Flanagan recall his quick temper
  3. Obama marks Hurricane Katrina anniversary in New Orleans visit
  4. Planned Parenthood alleges ‘smear’ campaign in letter to top lawmakers
  5. Ex-crime lab chief: Illegal’s fatal shot in San Francisco likely accidental
  6. Compatibility of 1st-responder radios in doubt
  7. 13 states spared EPA regulation of waterways
  8. Bison gores worker on California’s Catalina Island
  9. Department of Homeland Security gets more time for extended detention of migrant families awaiting asylum hearings
  10. Virginia reporter, cameraman killed on air; gunman also dies
  11. US economy surged at 3.7 percent rate in April-June quarter