Valerie Green is still waiting to be cured. The Delaware resident was diagnosed with hepatitis C more than two years ago, but she doesn’t qualify yet for the Medicaid program’s criteria for treatment with a new class of highly effective but pricey drugs. The recent approval of a less expensive drug that generally cures hepatitis C in just eight weeks may make it easier for more insurers and correctional facilities to expand treatment.
The drug, Mavyret, is the first to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration that can cure all six genetic types of hepatitis C in about two months in patients who haven’t previously been treated. Other approved drugs generally require 12 weeks to treat the disease and often aren’t effective for all types of hepatitis C.
In addition, Mavyret’s price tag of $26,400 for a course of treatment is significantly below that of other hepatitis C drugs whose sticker price ranges from about $55,000 to $95,000 to beat the disease. Patients and insurers often pay less, however, through negotiated insurance discounts and rebates.
“It certainly stands to reason that the continual march downwards on cost would lead to continual opening up of criteria,” said Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors.