BY DONNA WESTFALL CREDIT TO George Lauer, California Healthline Features Editor
Hepatitis C or Hep C for short.
$1,000 per pill called “Solvadi” made by Gilead Sciences of Foster City . $84,000 for a full course of the pills. Taxpayers foot the bill. About 93,000 Californians on Medi-Cal and in the state prison system have chronic Hep C. If the state covers treatment for all of them, that’s $6.6 billion.
Hep C is a viral infection that can lead to liver failure, cancer or other health problems. Our friend in Ojai, California passed away after living for 30 years with Hep C. He died while waiting for a liver transplant. The end was not pretty.
Last month, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation into the high pricing of Sovaldi. Certainly it’s a breakthrough drug. Fortunately two committee members remarked that the price appears to be higher than expected given the costs of development and production and the steep discounts offered in other countries.
State Medicaid programs — Medi-Cal in California — are entitled by federal law to negotiate drug discounts, but state prison systems usually pay full retail prices. Perhaps it’s time for the prison system to start using a red pencil and slash those prices. Let them start negotiating for steep discounts, otherwise, the taxpayers already overburdened and groaning from too much taxation are apt to see a huge increase due to this one drug.