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

No surprise here: the Philadelphia Transportation Authority is suing Gilead, maker of the expensive new hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni, over the cost of those drugs. A course of Sovaldi, not including drugs you might have to take in combination with it, as some patients do, costs $84,000. Harvoni, which won FDA approval more recently, costs $94,000.

According to the Philadelphia Star Tribune:

At The Crossroads, Part 6: Veterans Harder Hit By Hep C

Dec 5, 2014
Screenshot of live stream of hearing

In our ongoing series about hepatitis C, we look now at one of the hardest hit populations: veterans. Hep C is three times more prevalent among vets than in the general population. The Veterans Health Administration has the country’s largest hepatitis C screening and treatment program in the country. But that program is struggling to pay for new treatments – and the rising number of veterans who need them.

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What’s the price of a human life? Many of us would say each life is priceless. But health economists sometimes have a number in mind.

Want to know what that number is?

In this part of our series “At the Crossroads: The Rise of Hepatitis C and The Fight To Stop It,” we'll tell you that - and more. We go beyond the high price of new hepatitis C drugs  to ask: how much is too much? And what the heck is a "quality adjusted life year" anyway?

At The Crossroads: Hepatitis C Resources In RI

Nov 25, 2014

For the past several weeks we've been airing stories from our series, "At the Crossroads: The rise of hepatitis C and the fight to stop it." Maybe you've been wondering, hey, should I get tested? Where can I do that? And what's it like?

Wonder no more. Here's a collection of resources to get you started.

At The Crossroads: How Will Medicare Grapple With Hep C?

Nov 21, 2014

My recent story about the high cost of new hepatitis C treatments focused on the difficulty of deciding who gets these new drugs now and who has to wait. That's because, while new drugs like Sovaldi and Harvoni (both made by Gilead) promise to cure a lot of people, they're so expensive we simply couldn't afford to treat everyone who's infected right now.

Jake Harper / RIPR

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the hepatitis C virus. Since then, people with hepatitis C have had limited – and not very effective – options for treatment.

Until now.

Revolutionary new treatments have hit the market in just the last few months. But they’re so expensive health insurers are balking at the price.

Part four of our series “At the Crossroads: The Rise of Hepatitis C and the Fight to Stop it” looks at the high cost of these new treatments and who’s paying for them.

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