Wonder drug for hepatitis C has $90,000 price tag
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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Northwest wildfire season begins early
- Lion cubs jump hurdles in Gaza Strip in journey to Jordan sanctuary
- Diebold, heirs of Prohibition agent Ness squabble over stock find
- Ohio got DEA approval to import lethal-injection drugs
- Hiring freeze, budget cuts put West Virginia on better footing
- Lawsuit in deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona yields little cash
- Suspect in San Francisco pier shooting was deported 5 times, federal authorities say
- Solar-powered plane crosses Pacific Ocean
- Santorum charter flight tab broke $400K
- Record-breaking solar-powered plane lands in Hawaii after flight from Japan
- $18.7B record-breaking deal clears path for BP to put Gulf Coast oil spill in rearview mirror