“Hepatitis C patients are routinely being denied access to life-saving medication at a time when the liver disease is on the rise, especially among intravenous drug users, according to new analysis by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.
The number of new reported cases of acute hepatitis C in Pennsylvania soared 240 percent between 2012 and 2016, to 225, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which the agency linked to a rise in injected-drug use. Yet according to the university study released Thursday, many patients may not be getting the treatment they need.
Half of patients with private insurance were denied coverage for the pill regimen, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, according to a review of thousands of prescription claims between January 2016 and April 2017. Across all payers, including Medicare and Medicaid, 35 percent of prescriptions for the treatment were denied.
“Despite effective hepatitis C drugs and despite attention paid toward restrictions in access to drugs, denials are still common,” said Vincent Lo Re III, an associate professor of infectious disease and epidemiology at Penn and a senior author of the study. “If we’re going to hope to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health problem, we need to improve access to antiviral drugs.”
Source: Philly.com – June 6, 2018