October 1, 2015 |
A groundbreaking - but very expensive - new drug that cures many people with hepatitis C caused rapid and widespread increases in Medicaid spending in 2014, but with substantial variation across states, two doctors reported in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Sofosbuvir, which has the brand-name Sovaldi and is made by Gilead Sciences, changed the standard of care for hepatitis C, which can destroy the liver and cause death if not properly treated. The 12-week course of treatment had a list price of $84,000.
June 6, 2015 |
Ricardo Rivera of the Philadelphia Hepatitis Outreach Project (P-HOP) calls his work "his passion" - one that came from great personal cost. Rivera, 46, of Somerton, lost his wife, Angela, this year to liver cancer caused by hepatitis C. Rivera represented part of the hepatitis-affected community in Philadelphia at a City Council briefing Thursday presented by Councilman-at-large David Oh. Oh wants to raise awareness of hepatitis prevention and...
May 18, 2015 |
Every year, hepatitis C kills significantly more Americans than HIV. Yet the liver-attacking virus doesn't get nearly the popular respect, or trigger the same fears. That understated reputation will be both a help and a hindrance as the public health community tries to control the spread of the virus. New cases of hepatitis C rose 150 percent between 2010 and 2013 nationwide, and even more in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. By far the highest rates of new cases, according to studies around the country, were among adolescents and young adults who inject drugs - particularly in rural areas.
May 9, 2015 |
Public health officials are bracing for a new wave of hepatitis C infections, one unleashed by the epidemic of prescription painkiller addiction. The bloodborne virus, on the decline nationally until a few years ago, is rising rapidly among adolescents and young adults, especially in white, rural communities. These are the same areas where a devastating epidemic of prescription opioid deaths first showed up over a decade ago, followed by a wave of heroin deaths. Most of the new hepatitis C patients have contracted the virus by injecting drugs, often crushed pain pills.
January 4, 2015 |
For patients with hepatitis C, the last year has brought great hope: New drugs that are highly effective with few side effects. But their high cost has led Medicaid officials in Pennsylvania and other states to put up barriers for patients, treating only the sickest ones and leaving many others to wait. "This is an unprecedented approach we've had to take with these drugs," said Terri Cathers, pharmacy director for Pennsylvania's Office of Medical Assistance Programs. "We've not done this before for other treatments as long as I've been in the business.
December 24, 2014 |
The health-care economic landscape shifted again Monday when Express Scripts, the nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager, chose sides in the high-priced market for hepatitis C medication. St. Louis-based Express Scripts said it would provide only one brand of hepatitis C medicine to most patients in its employer-sponsored health plans, choosing AbbVie Inc.'s new Viekira Pak after AbbVie gave it an undisclosed but "significant discount" on its list price of $83,000 for a 12-week treatment regimen.
November 2, 2014 |
A 36-year-old man who sold antiques over the Internet developed a sore throat and persistent cough in early September. For several weeks, he put up with the cough, but in early October, his energy flagged, and he began waking up in the middle of the night, feverish and drenched in sweat. He went to see his physician, who prescribed Doxycyclin, an all-purpose antibiotic that is active against a broad range of bacteria. The medicine did not work. His fevers persisted, and he felt increasingly washed-out and weary.
September 17, 2014 |
The shifting global pharmaceutical industry shifted a bit more Monday when Gilead Sciences said it struck a deal with seven India-based generic drugmakers, including a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based Mylan Inc., to make and sell cheaper versions of Gilead's $1,000-per-pill hepatitis C medication, Sovaldi, in 91 developing nations. Brand-name drug companies usually fight generic competition for as long as possible, to keep profits high. Gilead's announcement does not completely change that dynamic - the price won't change in the United States - and the company, like others, has had tiered pricing with other medications, such as those for HIV/AIDS, depending on national wealth.
June 11, 2014 |
The drugmaker Merck & Co. said Monday that it would buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. for about $3.85 billion to keep pace in the competitive and lucrative market for medicine to treat hepatitis C, which afflicts about 150 million people worldwide. Merck will pay $24.50 for each share of Idenix, which closed Friday at $7.23. The large premium reflects Merck's internal reorganization, external views of the market for liver diseases such as hepatitis, and the plans of drug rivals. Based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., but with a huge operation in Montgomery County, Merck is reorganizing.
December 19, 2013 |
In the last three weeks, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two new drugs that are expected to dramatically improve treatment of chronic hepatitis C, a liver-damaging viral infection that afflicts more than 3.2 million Americans. Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), made by Gilead, and Olysio (simeprevir), made by Janssen Therapeutics, could improve cure rates while reducing serious side effects. Jonathan M. Fenkel, a transplant hepatologist who directs Thomas Jefferson University's Hepatitis C Center, answered questions about the disease and the new drugs.