The cost of a cure: $188B to treat all US hep C patients with pricey new drugs
- MD Anderson researchers created a model to simulate the natural history of HCV treatment in hep C patients, including for both treatment naive and treatment experienced patients. Their model included currently diagnosed patients, as well as those who would be diagnosed as a result of age-based guidelines. Then they projected out costs into the next five years, focusing on the impact of treatment with all-oral treatment options.
- Looking at the cost of treating patients with either Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) or Harvoni (sofosbuvir/ledapasvir), both from Gilead, or with J&J's Olysio (simeprevir) over a 5-year period, researchers calculated that total costs of treating 1.6 million hepatitis-C infected patients would range from $136 to $188 billion. That's about $65 billion more than the costs of previously-used drugs.
- The researchers concluded that the costs of population-wide treatment of HCV-infected patients would not be sustainable and recommended a "needs-based prioritization" approach to determining which patients receive the new all-oral treatment regimens.
With costs ranging as high as $150,000 for various oral treatment regimens, payers have been balking at the cost of the new class of oral treatments for hepatitis C virus (HCV-1). The standard argument has been to pay for a "cure" now and offset, long-term, downstream costs, potentially including the cost of a liver transplant.
However, MD Anderson researchers presented findings that the new treatment options were much more expensive than previous regiments at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. While the team agreed that the costs would be unsustainable, the lead investigator, Jagpreet Chhatawal, contended that the best approach would be to treat everyone. However, he noted that a "multi-pronged" approach, including additional government finding, price negotiations, and needs-based prioritization is needed.