Cost factor makes hepatitis C drugs only to be available for patients who have crossed Stage 2
Cost of medical treatment for hepatitis C is so expensive that it will be provided only to those under provincial pharmacare programs who have moderate liver disease. The hepatitis C medicines are developed by Gilead Sciences and the drugs include Sovaldi and Harvoni.
Drugs like Sovaldi and Harvoni are considered to be game changers as it is said that these drugs can cure almost everyone who take them and in fact, eradicate the disease if taken for long time. But it is not easy to have it for the long term as it comes with hefty price tag.
For an eight to 24 week regimen of the antiviral would cost from $55,000 to $80,000 in Canadian dollars. Health Canada and 10 Canadian provincial pharmacare programs have negotiated with the company for the price cut.
But then the price would remain too high that only those whose disease has crossed stage two will qualify for publicly funded medication. It is not an easy thing to be digested by patients who know they have this devastating disease and want to have an access to the drug, so the disease does not get worse, but then also they cannot.
Dr. Morris Sherman, chair of the Canadian Liver Foundation, said that it is a difficult but an important message. “There has to be a system to amortize the cost of hepatitis C over time, because it's just not possible to pay for treatment for everyone right now. The costs to government are much more than expected, so I worry about them restricting eligibility even further”, affirmed Sherman.
Restricting the drug availability will turn out to be the biggest challenge. In fact, it is considered to be a big change in the concept of paying more for a quick cure in comparison to treating patients over many years. Many patients are having tough time to get a grip on the system as it is a new system.
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