The price of hepatitis C treatment remains a barrier for some.
The cost of treating hepatitis C has dropped some in the past year or so. But price – drugs can list around 100,000 for a course – is still a barrier and can put a big burden on insurance programs like Medicaid, which has to make tough decisions about who qualifies for the lifesaving drugs.
Regional Appalachian pharmacy chain Fruth got a grant in 2016 from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to begin offering hepatitis C testing for free. Hepatitis C is a virus spread by contact with infected blood that can cause cancer or severe liver damage if untreated. Blood transfusions that happened before 1992 and unsterile tattoos and piercings also put people at risk for hepatitis C. But by far the largest factor in the disease’s spread is intravenous drug use — drugs like heroin.
“We see this as a problem in the community, this is our community that we serve,” said Jamie Bennett, clinical services leader at Fruth. Bennett is talking about the fact that West Virginia has some of the highest rates of hepatitis C in the nation.
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