Thanks to a combination of falling prices and litigation, more state Medicaid programs have eased restrictions on hepatitis C medications, according to a new analysis.

Over the past year, 21 states either eliminated or reduced their restrictions based on a patient’s stage of liver disease, nine loosened rules that required patients to demonstrate they have not abused drugs or alcohol for a period of time before starting treatment, and six states scaled backed prescribing restrictions for health care providers.

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  • This article is deceptive. States rationed these drugs due to their cost. Some states use the less effective, and less expensive drugs first. That way they can appear to be treating people with this infectious disease, and mislead the public about the high costs of the effective treatment. Not one iota of data has been collected on the number of new cases, due to the less effective treatment. Due to the ignorance and denial about injected drugs, the people with this disease are already viewed as sub human. No state has done any data collecting about the costs of new infection, or even the number of deaths and hospitalizations due to this disease. Years ago when we still collected useful data, many of the new infections were in jails or prisons. This kind of fact based data was inconvenient, which is leading to new infections. the media failed to cover any of this. Many of the new infections are innocent people, like the marital partners and unborn children of the Hep C carriers. No media outlet in any state has made that clear, instead they attributed the disease to drug addicts, or minorities. Since the media describes this disease as only happening to “those people” no one is paying attention to the infection rates. None of the residents in any of these states are even allowed to know how much of their tax dollars are going towards pharma profiteering.

    This one more example of how pharma is cashing in on the opiate epidemic, by deliberately misleading the public.

    • Hi Mavis
      Thanks for the note.
      I’m not going to defend the study authors, but would point out this is 3rd survey of this sort from the Harvard Center that I’m aware of and that timeframe – looking at 2015 – would have reached back to when fewer choices were available, basically the first drugs from Gilead and AbbVie.

      Also, I noted that states were castigated by CMS for restricting access, which was due to cost. Click on the link ‘warned’ in that paragraph and it takes you back to a post from Nov 2015, when state programs were reacting to the high costs.

      I should also have linked to this earlier post from 2014 that underscores that point.

      https://blogs.wsj.com/pharmalot/2014/07/31/illinois-med-director-on-gilead-hep-c-pill-we-want-to-be-compassionate/

      For the record, I never described the patient population as drug addicts or minorities. I’m open to criticism and suggestion, but can’t and won’t speak for other media.

      Hope this helps,
      ed at pharmalot

    • Mr. Silverman,

      I went over local news articles on Hepatitis C, in my state. Even when the journalists appeared to be “compassionate” by using an anecdotal patients story, they painted this as a disease that “those people” get.” They left out the fact, that many cases are caused by medical procedures, years ago. I found that these articles play on 2 levels. One gives the appearance of a sensible, human response, yet at the same time, the same papers has attributed all of our social issues to poor people, drug addicts and “those people.”
      The public has not really shown any interest in the costs to either the medical system, or the direct cost of the pharmaceuticals. In our state a lot of the deaths, from this disease, were not counted as Hepatitis C, because they died from overdoses or alcohol disease. Years ago, I noticed that some of these people were repeatedly hospitalized, and there was no program whatsoever, to monitor the costs to the system. I used to believe that the costs would have inspired some kind of sensible response or program to help these people. Instead they amplified the stories of the ones who ‘deserved” help. There are a lot of people in the healthcare industry, that still believe this is a moral disease. Those sensible articles pleading for compassion have not manifested much of it.

      Here, they remind readers that this is a prisoners disease, from 2015.
      https://www.abqjournal.com/698721/about-half-of-inmates-in-states-prisons-infected-with-hep-c.html

    • Amen to all of this. My father was infected with Help by a blood transfusion. And he was treated like a pariah, and falsely accused of being a substance abuser. By a physician, no less. He died from it, due to inadequate treatment, after he was marginalized. So it matters not if someone is a drug user or not, everyone with the desease is treated as one. And even if a person is a drug user, why aren’t they receiving treatment for that????

    • Hi again Mavis,
      I appreciate your points. Again, I can only speak for myself.
      Many years ago at The Star-Ledger of New Jersey, I covered the bundling controversy caused by Schering-Plough and, as part of my coverage, I spent time with people who had hepatitis C and were very ill. One subsequently died not longer after the interview sessions. I tried to be sensitive to their plight. They were not ‘those people,’ to me.
      ed at pharmalot

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