Newer medications are curing thousands of people of hepatitis C this year. Yet, for some, cost remains a barrier to getting these medications.
By the end of this year, thousands of people will be cured of hepatitis C, a virus that infects the liver. But while access to new, revolutionary drugs has expanded, there is still one major obstacle standing in the way of eradicating the virus entirely: the cost.
An estimated 4 million Americans carry the virus, but each of those patients has the chance to be entirely cured of hepatitis C. New drug treatments are showing cure rates of about 95 percent or even higher, said Dr. Mitchell Shiffman of Bon Secours Liver Institute of Virginia.
But the cost is high. The new drugs include a 12-week pill regimen, and the wholesale price for the full treatment can range from $80,000 to $100,000.
The good news is that some insurers have started offering coverage for the new treatments, and Medicare has devoted more than $9 billion to covering the drugs for those enrolled in the program. Also, many veterans are being cured because the Department of Veterans Affairs was able to cover the cost.