Medford, Ore.– A life saving drug that can cure the potentially fatal virus Hepatitis C, it’s a breakthrough in medical research, but there’s only one problem. Most can’t afford the $100,000 treatment or get their insurance companies to cover it.
With the rate of new infections and deaths from Hepatitis C higher in Oregon than the entire U.S. as a whole, Oregon lawmakers are rushing to make life saving drugs available and they’re asking you to help them lower what they call immoral pricing.
“It’s kind of a miracle that we have a cure for Hepatitis C,” says State Senator Dr. Alan Bates.
Sovaldi and Harvoni, two drugs that could change the life of someone who is Hepatitis C positive.
“The anti-viral agents are incredibly effective,” confirms Dr. Peter Adesman of Gastroenterology Consultants in Medford. In as little as six weeks these drugs can wipe out the possibly fatal Hepatitis C virus. “The treatment is about 95 plus percent effective,” Adesman says.
Senator Bates says “It’s an absolute breakthrough in healthcare.” But it’s a breakthrough that the average person can’t afford. “The average cost for treatment for one case of Hepatitis c is $100,000,” says Bates.
According to Congressman Greg Walden, “It’s really a problem for people who could have their lives improved or saved.”
According to Dr. Adesman, because of the high prices many insurance companies wont allow a Hepatitis C patient to be treated unless their illness is far enough along, Adesman says typically into stage three and above.
In part one of this story we met John who asked us to keep his identity secret. “It’s a big frustration,” he says.
John shared his desire for treatment of his Hepatitis C diagnosis, but says he was denied by his insurance. Because he is at a level one and his liver has not suffered significant damage his insurance provider wont spend the money for his treatment.
“The change that needs to happen is the price needs to come down,” says Bates. “It’s immoral for us to have to pay those kinds of drug prices and for people to have to wait for treatment and risk their lives waiting for that treatment.”