KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hepatitis C Drug Fuels Cost Debate

A panel of experts said this week that the drug represents a "low value" to the health system because of its cost.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Should Healthier Patients Be Asked To Wait To Use Costly Hepatitis C Drugs?
New treatments for hepatitis C that cost at least $66,000 to $84,000 may work better than older drugs, but their cost undermines their value to the health system, a panel of experts said during a daylong forum in San Francisco (Appleby, 3/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Medical Groups Question Price Of New Hep C Drug
An innovative hepatitis C drug that was only recently hailed as a breakthrough treatment is facing skepticism from some health care providers, as they consider whether it is worth the $1,000-a-pill price set by manufacturer Gilead Sciences Inc. A panel of California medical experts voted Monday that Gilead’s Sovaldi represents a “low value” treatment, considering its cost compared with older drugs for the blood-borne virus (3/11). 

In other news about cost and quality -

The New York Times New Old Age Blog: Questions About A Popular Heart Procedure
Enter a newcomer, transcatheter aortic valve replacement. T.A.V.R., as it is known, involves a catheter, usually inserted through the groin, that delivers a new valve without a big incision and sometimes without general anesthesia. The Food and Drug Administration approved it in 2011 for patients whose aortic stenosis is considered inoperable, then in 2012 for the larger group of patients deemed “high risk” (an expansion skeptics call “indication creep”). It sounded like a big step forward. “Here was this new, sexy-sounding procedure that had a huge amount of press,” said Dr. Torrey Simons, a palliative care specialist at Stanford University who has been analyzing the operation’s cost-effectiveness (Span, 3/12). 

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