« Law - "DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit" | Main | Courts - "Debtors' Prison for Kids: The High Cost of Fines and Fees in the Juvenile Justice System" »

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "High Cost of New Hepatitis C Drugs Strains Prison Budgets, Locks Many Out of Cure"

This $$ story by Peter Loftus and Gary Fields is on the front page of today's Wall Street Journal. A few quotes:

GRATERFORD, Pa.—David Maldonado, an inmate at a Pennsylvania state prison, is one of thousands of convicted criminals with hepatitis C, an infectious disease that is one of the country’s biggest killers. Powerful new drugs on the market could help Mr. Maldonado and cut the chances of it spreading outside prison walls.

The medicines, however, are so expensive, and the problem so widespread, that to treat all sufferers would blow up most prison budgets. List prices for the newer drugs range from $54,000 to $94,000 a person for a typical 12-week course. * * *

In a March court filing, the department said treating the state’s estimated 7,000 infected inmates would cost about $600 million, which “would effectively cripple the Department from a budgetary standpoint” and squeeze other medical care and security needs. * * *

The rationing, which has been implemented at both the state and federal level, is an acute example of the dilemmas caused by both high and fast-rising drug prices. Lawmakers and consumers have increasingly pressured drugmakers such as Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and Mylan NV over the prices they charge, and both presidential contenders have proposed ways to cut them.

Later in the long story:
The Wall Street Journal surveyed all 50 state departments of corrections to determine how many affected inmates are receiving newer hepatitis C drugs. The 34 states that had data reported a total of roughly 101,000 inmates with the condition. Of those, about 3.4% have been treated for hepatitis C with the new drugs. A few states provided estimates of prevalence and treatment rates only. The remaining states didn’t have the data, or declined to comment. Some didn’t respond to phone calls or emails.

The majority of responding states cited cost as a reason for limiting treatment. Few prisoners have private insurance, and federal law generally prohibits Medicaid from funding most types of inmate care that doesn’t require hospitalization.

An accompanying list, showing the "per-patient price paid by state corrections departments for a 12-week course of Gilead Sciences Inc.'s hepatitis drug Harvoni" shows Georgia at the top of the 22-state list at $91,014/12-week course of treatment. Indiana is third highest at $80,000. North Dakota is at the bootm, at $46,021.

There is much more information in the lengthy article.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 13, 2016 10:33 AM
Posted to Indiana Government