KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Costly New Hepatitis C Drug Raises Questions About Who Will Pay

The new hepatitis C medication presents a dilemma for Medicaid and other insurers, who must balance the cost against the large numbers of people who might benefit. A single course of treatment costs $84,000.

Kaiser Health News: There’s a Life-Saving Hepatitis C Drug. But You May Not Be Able To Afford It.
There's a new drug regimen being touted as a potential cure for a dangerous liver virus that causes hepatitis C. But it costs $84,000 -- or $1,000 a pill. And that price tag is prompting outrage from some consumers and a scramble by insurers to figure out which patients should get the drug —and who pays for it (Appleby, 3/3).

The Washington Post: Costly Hepatitis Drug Sovaldi Rattles Industry
When the Food and Drug Administration approved a medication called Sovaldi in December, it was hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that affects 3.2 million Americans and kills more people in the U.S. annually than AIDS. Then California-based Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer, announced the price: $84,000 for a 12-week course, more than what many cancer treatments cost in a year. The hefty price tag has rattled patient advocacy groups and insurance companies, who say most costly new treatments coming on the market are targeted for a smaller patient population. Putting such a premium on a drug that could help so many will be crushing, they say (Somashekhar, 3/1).

Stateline: Could New Hepatitis C Drugs Bust State Budgets?
Two new medications to treat the deadly epidemic of hepatitis C promise millions of Americans a better chance of a cure, shorter periods of treatment and fewer side effects than older drugs. They also threaten to bust state budgets and raise private insurance rates. ??The new hepatitis C medications present a dilemma for Medicaid and other insurers, who must balance the cost against the huge number of people who could benefit from the treatment. A course of treatment costs between $84,000 and $168,000 -- or $1,000 to $2,000 per pill (Ollove, 2/28).

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