After shooting meth put her in a Missouri hospital with six days of bleeding, Heather Surface stumbled out into the January cold last year, still drug-addicted, homeless and unaware that she had a dangerous liver infection.
Two weeks later at a rehab center, she met Bruce Burkett, a wispy-bearded Army vet who’s part social worker, part public health crusader, and a boon to drugmakers for his work in finding patients who need costly, powerful treatments for the viral liver infection hepatitis C.
Burkett specializes in lining up testing and treatment for patients, and most of his work is funded by companies including Gilead Sciences Inc., AbbVie Inc. and Merck & Co.that have sold almost $50 billion of the new antivirals since they began hitting the market in 2013. Stiff competition has driven prices down and discounts up, and many insured patients have already been treated. That’s been bad news for the market leader, Gilead, which must increasingly find patients through the social service networks that target drug users and the poor. Many patients don’t even know they have the infection, which can take years to show symptoms.
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The non-profit Vermont Legal Aid is working to make it easier for people suffering from Hepatitis C to get curative treatment under Vermont’s Medicaid system.
Vermont Public Radio reports the legal aid group has taken up the case of a Vermont woman who was denied Hepatitis C treatment under the program because her liver isn’t yet damaged enough. VPR did not use the woman’s name. Vermont legal Aid is helping the woman appeal her coverage denial.
Vermont’s Medicaid program requires people to be in the late stages of liver damage before they qualify for treatment.
In September 2016, the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA2016) occurred in Hollywood, Florida. The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) organized it. Drug manufacturers, Gilead, Merck, ViiV and others provided financial sponsorship.
While antiretroviral treatment (ART) has saved millions of lives, drug companies charge exorbitant prices for ART. This has not made them popular, despite their coupons and various discounts. The drug companies have priced Hepatitis C treatments even higher. Gilead charges $94,500 for a 12-week treatment for Hepatitis C. A mark-up like that would even embarrass Nieman-Marcus.
These high costs absorb large shares of HIV spending, leaving less for other HIV programs. These same drug companies fund HIV conferences, HIV media, and LGBT media.