Earlier Hep C Treatment With Pricey New Drugs May Be More Cost-Effective Than Waiting
A computer simulation finds that treating the disease when liver damage first begins can save money over the long run, especially if the cost of the new generation drugs is addressed. Some insurers won't cover the treatment until a patient's liver disease is advanced. In related news, NPR reports on the financial and public health calculations of the expensive hepatitis C prescriptions in prisons.
Expensive New Hep C Drugs May Be Cost-Effective Even For Early Disease
Treating hepatitis C with expensive new medicines at the earliest signs of liver damage improves patients' health and is also cost-effective, a new computer simulation suggests. "Going into this, I expected to find it did make sense to wait until there was a limited amount of liver disease, but what we found to our surprise is that it makes sense to start treatment at the earliest change in the liver," said senior author Dr. James Kahn, of the University of California, San Francisco. (Seaman, 11/23)
Treating Prisoners With Hepatitis C May Be Worth The Hefty Price
Doctors, patients and insurers have been struggling with how to determine who should be treated for hepatitis C now that effective but wildly expensive drugs can all but cure the disease. Treating prison inmates is a good investment that would save money in the long run, a study finds. The drugs, Harvoni and Sovaldi, cure about 90 percent of patients, but at a hefty price, about $90,000 per patient. ... More than 15 percent of U.S. prison inmates are infected with Hepatitis C. The study, published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine, shows that as many as 12,000 lives would be saved if inmates were screened and treated. (Kodjak, 11/23)
In other pharmaceutical news, a physicians group says that doctors should prescribe generics more frequently, and a study finds that off-label use of drugs is growing -
The Washington Post:
Are Doctors Prescribing Generic Drugs Often Enough? This Group Says No.
Doctors should more diligently prescribe generic medicines whenever possible, both to help contain rising prescription drug costs and to improve the chances that patients will adhere to their therapies, a top physicians group said Monday. Generic drugs now account for roughly 88 percent of prescriptions in the United States, even though they amount to less than a third of the more than $325 billion Americans spend each year on prescription drugs. But the American College of Physicians says doctors should be using generics even more often than they already do. (Dennis, 11/23)
The Wall Street Journal:
Risk Of Off-Label Uses For Prescription Drugs
About 12% of drugs doctors prescribe are for uses other than those approved by regulators, a recent study found. So-called off-label prescribing significantly raises the rate of negative side effects, the research showed. (Reddy, 11/23)