Would you carry $180,000 worth of products on public transportation? I
know of at least one patient who must do just that. Here’s how the
scenario begins: You start by picking up your 90-day supply of
medications, just like you do every 3 months. Your doctor has just
prescribed a new regimen to treat your chronic Hepatitis C (HCV). Since
25 percent of HIV-positive people also have HCV (co-infection) your
doctor tested you early on for HCV and has been monitoring your liver
function tests. You’ve had no obvious symptoms but gradually, over the
years, your liver function tests show liver damage that has recently
You’ve waited for months for the new drugs to become available,
because the clinical trials have amazing cure rates (over 90 percent),
and you’ve heard scary things about the standard of care treatments with
interferon. You stop to take a look at the resulting price tag, the one
you’ve ignored because your blessed insurance covers everything but a
Walter Bianco, an Arizona man denied access to new drugs to cure his
hepatitis C infection, will get the costly medications after all.
After NPR and Kaiser Health News reported
his plight on Monday, federal Medicare officials said they would
investigate. Bianco’s appeal of an earlier denial had been rejected by
WellCare, a private insurer that contracts with the federal program to
provide drug coverage.
Late Tuesday, Bianco’s doctor got word that the earlier denials had been reversed.
Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit
dedicated to providing free financial assistance to underinsured
patients with certain cancers, rare diseases, and chronic illnesses
including Hepatitis B and C. Since 2004, PAN has provided nearly half a
billion dollars in assistance to more than 200,000 patients across the
US – nearly 15,000 of whom received grants to cover the out-of-pocket
costs associated with their Hepatitis B or C treatments.
patients can receive $4,500 for HBV and $7,000 for HCV treatment –
helping to cover the out-of-pocket expenses for specialty medications
which treat the diseases directly. To learn more about the Foundation
and PAN assistance, visit www.panfoundation.org.