Hepatitis C rates are shown to be abnormally high among baby boomers, reports CBS Philly. especially with those living in urban areas. In fact, it’s reported that one in 30 baby boomers are living with the virus, and in most of those cases, they transmitted it through intravenous drug use, tattooing, and blood transfusions.
In the state of New Jersey, hep C rates are extremely high even in suburban areas, says NJ.com. The rates have gotten so high that the city of Camden has opened Our Lady of Lourdes, a clinic specifically created to help those living with hep C.
Most newly diagnosed hep C cases in New Jersey are heroin users under the age of 35, yet it’s this group who seems to lack accessible treatment.
A complete 12-week treatment course can cost upwards of $84,000. Government funded facilities are hesitant to address treating individuals for fear of dwindling funds. So once again, lower income groups will suffer.
Gilead, the company who patented sofosbuvir (Solvaldi), the drug treatment for the virus, are now exploring new ways of cutting the cost of their drug for patients — this has only been taking place outside of the US in places like Egypt, India, Malaysia, and Thailand. In these locations, a fixed dose combination of ravidasvir and sofosbuvir cost as little as $300.
One can hope that the exploration of lower costing treatment for individuals with hep C can make its way to the US.
Gilead has stated they are looking into generic drug markets setting the price at $2,000 per treatment course and offer patient assistance for people who aren’t insured. This could be a step forward.
Although the cure is out there, many folks are still living with the virus and aren’t undergoing intensive treatments, and often times it’s because those treatments are inaccessible to the poor. It’s time to change that.