“Pharmaceutical pricing for HCV is unconscionable,” Dr. Edlin said. “They are extortionist prices because the choice is really your money or your life. And the restrictions payers have imposed defy medical guidelines, lack scientific justification, and undermine public health efforts to stem transmission and end the epidemic.”
Despite the approval of effective hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment regimens, the exceedingly high cost of the medication prevents it from reaching HCV patients, according to new research from Weill Cornell Medicine. Physicians and government officials must lead the development of a national consensus, enjoining the commitment of pharmaceutical companies and insurers to lower prices and remove restrictions so that patients can combat this difficult disease.
“In the last few years, two major historic developments have occurred,” said Dr. Brian Edlin, an associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “One is the development of HCV drugs that have revolutionized care and can eliminate this disease. The second is the collusion of decision makers at the heads of large organizations to prevent the drugs from being used to stop the epidemic. We need to seize the opportunity to overcome these man-made obstacles.”
A review article, authored by Dr. Edlin and published July 12 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, examines the current landscape of HCV, a virus that results in chronic liver disease and affects more than 3 million people in the United States.
Treatment regimens that eradicate HCV were approved in 2014; however, far too few patients have been able access the medication due to the tremendous cost. The treatment is priced from $83,320 to $150,000 for a 12-week course of daily pills — 84 pills in total. A separate study found that the cost to produce one pill was just $1.20. While there are significant overhead and research costs, pharmaceutical companies are still making an enormous profit, Dr. Edlin said.