TribLIVE

| USWorld


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

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

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. Inside job suspected in robbery of gold bars from truck
  2. NYC public schools to close on 2 major Muslim holidays
  3. Senate fails to override Obama veto of Keystone pipeline bill
  4. Alabama Supreme Court defies federal judge’s ruling
  5. Ferguson’s white officer justified in shooting black man, feds find
  6. McConnell wants EPA rule rejected
  7. Md. man accused in 5 random shootings
  8. Congress investigates Hillary Clintons use of private email
  9. Defense strategy for Boston Marathon bombing defendant Tsarnaev is to avoid death penalty
  10. U.S. clears police officer in Ferguson case, criticizes police force
  11. Winter storm swirls from Texas to New England