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VA to Cover Hep C Treatment


After outsourcing treatment last year, the VA increases funding to cover more veterans living with hepatitis C.

Treatment for hepatitis C has dramatically improved in recent years, with the development of new curative therapies like Gilead’s Sovaldi. But, with costs for the three-month regimen running close to $80,000, Veterans Affairs Hospitals had limited treatment to those who were severely ill.

That led to more than 180,000 veterans being outsourced for their HCV therapy last year. Now, thanks to an increase in funding and a decrease in drug prices, all veterans will be able to receive HCV treatment through the VA regardless of the stage of their liver disease.

“We’re honored to be able to expand treatment for veterans who are afflicted with hepatitis C,” VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin said in a statement. “To manage limited resources, previously we established treatment priority for the sickest patients.”

Veterans Affairs spent $696 million — or 17 percent of their total annual pharmacy budget — on HCV medication in 2015. This year, it has dedicated nearly a billion, which it hopes to increase to $1.5 billion in 2017.

According to recent studies, one out of 10 U.S. veterans are living with HCV, a rate five times higher than the average population. Veterans of the Vietnam War are considered to be at particular risk due to blood transfusions and blood contact during warfare.

With the increase in the budget for HVC treatment, the VA is encouraging veterans living with the disease to take advantage of the life-saving treatment.

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