A federal judgement calls for a state corrections department to provide hepatitis C medications to inmates.
A federal judge ordered Pennsylvania’s corrections department to provide costly new antiviral drugs to an inmate infected with hepatitis C, and rebuked the state for restricting inmates’ access to the drugs.
Hepatitis C is an epidemic in prisons, but state corrections departments have treated relatively few prisoners because the drugs are expensive, costing about $54,000 to $94,500 per patient.
The new antivirals, sold by Gilead Sciences Inc., AbbVie Inc. and Merck & Co., began hitting the market in 2013 and have higher cure rates and less severe side effects than older treatments. Hepatitis C is transmitted by via infected blood, including through needle sharing. Chronic infection can cause serious liver damage if left untreated.
Public and private health insurers also have restricted use of the drugs—sparking lawsuits by patients seeking access. In May, a federal judge ordered Washington state’s Medicaid program to pay for treatments for all infected patients, not just the sickest. National medical societies say most infected patients should receive the drugs.
Read full article: Pennsylvania Is Ordered to Provide Hepatitis C Drug to Inmate
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