Some rare common sense in our healthcare system? Treating hepatitis C, and getting it right

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IScreen Shot 2014-06-05 at 12.42.03 PMn what was was either a freak accident or someone actually using their mind, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency that is part of Health and Human Services (HHS), has decided, and wisely so, to cover what on the surface seems to be an exorbitantly expensive new drug for hepatitis C.

HCV infection is four-times more prevalent than HIV, and has been evolving into an important public health issue, especially in the past decade.

Sovaldi, which was was approved in late 2013, is a revolutionary new drug from Gilead. It is the magic bullet that infectious disease specialists have been waiting for for more than two decades an inhibitor of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that is actually able to cure the infection almost 100 percent of the time, and do so without the awful side effects of the previous standard of care interferon and ribavirin, which were not only difficult to tolerate and suboptimally effective, but were also expensive.

But Sovaldi costs $1,000 per day $84,000 for a complete course and the moment this was announced, Gilead predictably came under attack for the price.

But as ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom pointed out last month in his Science 2.0 piece entitled Are Hepatitis C Drugs Too Expensive? Let's not forget the costs of not using Sovaldi. A course of Interferon plus ribavirin costs $30,000. A liver transplant will set you back more than $500,000. And the anti-rejection drugs needed after the transplant cost $20,000 for the first year following transplantation.

He says, It would seem that HHS understands the value of this drug rather than just the price.

You can read his piece in its entirety here.