At The Crossroads: The Rise Of Hepatitis C And The Fight To Stop It

A new series from Rhode Island Public Radio.

About the series:
Hepatitis C infects an estimated five million Americans, though most of them don’t know it. But deaths from hepatitis C are on the rise in baby boomers. And throughout New England, new infections are creeping up among a younger generation. Less than a year ago, their only options for treatment were complicated regimens of injections that didn’t always lead to a cure. But brand new drugs could change everything. That is, if the cost doesn’t break us.

Acknowledgments
This series was produced by Kristin Gourlay, and edited by Catherine Welch, as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Support for health care reporting on Rhode Island Public Radio also comes from the Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island's only community foundation.

Jake Harper produced the infographics for "At the Crossroads."

Hepatitis C Resources

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Here's what's happening in health in Rhode Island. (Note: Your Weekly Briefing will be on vacation next week.)

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

For the first time, Rhode Island has one of the most complete pictures of the extent of the hepatitis C epidemic. More people are infected, and more are dying from the viral disease than previously known, finds a new study. But  more people are also getting treated – and cured.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Here's what's happening in health in Rhode Island.

  • Eliminate Hep C in RI? Brown researchers project more treatment could reduce hepatitis C by 90% in Rhode Island by 2030.

Here's what's happening in health in Rhode Island:

Gilead Sciences

Rhode Island Medicaid is revisiting its policy for determining who receives pricey hepatitis C drugs. Current policy limits who gets treated and when, but those restrictions could be loosened.

From the Annals of Internal Medicine article: Restrictions for Medicaid Reimbursement of Sofosbuvir for the Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States / Authors: Soumitri Barua; Robert Greenwald, JD; Jason Grebely, PhD; Gregory J. Dore, MBBS, PhD; Tracy Swan; and Lynn E. Taylor, MD

Medicaid patients in Washington state (a similar suit is underway in Indiana) have sued the state's Medicaid agency claiming they were denied treatment for hepatitis C because of the high cost of the drugs. Litigation director Kevin Costello with the Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation says his organization has joined the lawsuit.

Gilead Sciences

  Federal officials say state Medicaid agencies may be going too far when it comes to restricting access to new hepatitis C drugs. Rhode Island, like many states, requires Medicaid patients to meet a list of criteria before doctors can prescribe them the new medications. But those criteria may be too restrictive.

From the Annals of Internal Medicine article: Restrictions for Medicaid Reimbursement of Sofosbuvir for the Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States / Authors: Soumitri Barua; Robert Greenwald, JD; Jason Grebely, PhD; Gregory J. Dore, MBBS, PhD; Tracy Swan; and Lynn E. Taylor, MD

Hepatitis C may not take as big of a chunk out of the state’s Medicaid budget as previously projected. One reason? A majority of patients who requested treatment have been denied.

World Hepatitis Alliance

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 marks the 5th annual World Hepatitis Day, a global awareness-raising event launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance, in concert with the World Health Organization.

On Saturday, August 1st, Providence marks the occasion with "C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C."

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The future of health care for the poor, a review of Rhode Island’s criminal justice system, and politicking in Vermont…that’s part of the conversation this week on Political Roundtable. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay hosts; Ian Donnis is away. We're joined, as always, by URI political science professor Maureen Moakley and RIPR's political analyst Scott MacKay.

NPR's All Things Considered host Audie Cornish interviewed a prominent cancer doctor Monday about his public criticism of the high cost of cancer drugs.

Pages