A HUMAN chain around the ministry of health building in Madrid in
support of Hepatitis C patients who have staged a lock-in at the 12 de
Octubre hospital called for medication to be supplied to all those who
A drug which is proven to be effective against the liver
disease in 95% of cases was approved by the health ministry three months
ago, but not every patient has been prescribed this expensive
medication and those who have are obliged to queue up at the hospital
daily to see whether or not they will be given it that morning.
far, the group of Hepatitis C patients who have shut themselves into
the hospital, displaying banners on the balconies of its windows, have
been there for 10 days.
The Health Care Authority (HCA) has issued an interim updated
hepatitis C policy that reflects the rapidly changing field of treatment
for the chronic disease. The policy will be presented to the Washington
State Drug Utilization Board for final approval in February.
There are several key updates in the policy, which applies to Medicaid clients.
Those infected with hepatitis B or HIV now qualify for hepatitis C
treatment if they have moderate liver scarring. In the previous policy,
only those with severe liver disease and other specific conditions,
including those receiving an organ transplant, qualified for the
People with a history of intravenous drug use may be treated right
away if they meet the treatment qualifications. In the previous policy,
individuals had to have not used IV drugs for the past six months, with
The policy provides guidance on when it is not appropriate to offer hepatitis C treatment.
Back in 2013, I wrote a column recommending
that many of us be tested for hepatitis C. At that time, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task
Force had recommended that all baby boomers (those born between 1945
and 1965) should be screened for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). I was
tested at that time and was negative.
Unlike some things I
have experienced in medical care, I was able to find out the price of
the test right away. For me, it was $89. (Since I was having a test for
something else, there were no other fees, like a phlebotomy charge for
getting my blood drawn.) Then, I waited for more than a week to get the
If you test positive, the HCV evaluation and treatment is becoming
simpler and may cure you. It should be started immediately. If the test
is negative, you do not need to be tested again for a long time, if
of hepatitis C patients and their supporters have taken to the streets
of the Spanish capital, Madrid, to vent their anger at the government’s
crippling austerity measures affecting health services.
The protesters on Saturday complained that the government’s spending cuts have prevented access to a new drug for hepatitis C.
They marched on Spain’s Health Ministry to have their voices heard.
“If they do not give us the latest generation medicines, we will die,” said one sufferer.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) praised a decision by Express
Scripts Holding Co. on Monday to drop a higher priced Hepatitis C
treatment in favor of AbbVie Inc.’s cheaper Viekira Pak treatment
“The decision by Express Scripts to choose the Viekira Pak over Sovaldi
demonstrates the limits of big pharma’s greed and arrogance,” Michael
Weinstein, president of AHF, said. “Gilead wrongly believed they could
get away with charging through the roof for Sovaldi and now their
strategy has clearly backfired. With private insurers and taxpayers
footing the bill for most of these life-saving treatments, it is now
incumbent that the government and other companies follow suit in
standing up to these attempts at public extortion.”
“AbbVie’s price is only slightly less outrageous but it might serve as a
warning to other companies that market competition combined with public
revulsion can restrain prices even when the government refuses to act,”
Dr. Yehia al-Shazly, a spokesperson for the National Committee to Combat Viral Hepatitis, said that five new Sovaldi dismemberment centers were added to bring the total number to 21 centers nationwide. The locations for the centers to disburse the Hepatitis C-treating drug are the
Ahmed Maher hospitals in Cairo, the Aswan Fever Hospital, the Damanhur
Hospital in Beheira, the Shebin fever hospital in Menoufiya and the Suez
Shazly also said that 10,000 patients have been given the drug so
far, and that the committee still has 71,000 packets that will be
distributed in the coming few days.
He added that five additional centers will be included at the beginning of January in all governorates.
Cynthia Bell wouldn’t take no for an answer when TennCare turned her down for a drug that could cure her hepatitis C.
kept fighting because I wanted to live,” she said. “I wanted to live as
long as I can to see my grandbabies grow up. I am not going to sit down
and just accept anything.”
Bell called the Legal Aid Society of
Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, which took her case. A lawyer
there helped her win her fight. She got Sovaldi — a drug that costs
$84,000 for a 12-week treatment.
Every week, Dr. Michael Poshkus visits the John J. Moran Medium
Security prison in Cranston, R.I., to see patients infected with
Until recently, their only treatment option was a
weekly injection in the stomach for at least a year. It worked less than
half the time and caused debilitating side effects. But everything has
Drug maker AbbVie won FDA approval
Monday for a new hepatitis C treatment that combines several drugs and
can cure the disease in a matter of weeks or a few months. The news caps
a year of medical milestones for the estimated 3.2 million Americans (including 12 to 35 percent of prisoners) who are chronically infected with this viral liver disease. Yet most of the hepatitis C drugs to hit the market this year
cost tens of thousands of dollars. That puts them out of reach for many
inmates and threatens to break prison health care budgets.