The Promise and the Challenge
Here’s the promise: There is a cure, a complete cure in a short 12 weeks, for hepatitis C virus (HCV), which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates afflicts between 2.7 and 3.9 million Americans, and which is a leading cause of liver cancer and other devastating health complications. This new class of HCV drugs, which are much easier on the human body and virtually free of side effects, attacks the virus directly and can reduce the viral load to zero when taken correctly.
As with so many things in healthcare, this promise comes with challenges. First, the price tag can be steep—nearly $100,000 for a full 12-week course. But weigh this against the down-the-line medical and lost-productivity costs, not to mention human toll, associated with hepatitis C (HCV) infection, which can cause chronic liver infection, cirrhosis, cancer and the need for a liver transplant. In 2014, there were nearly 20,000 deaths in the U.S. with HCV infection as an underlying or contributing cause.