CHI Report – Innovation in Hepatitis C Treatment – Page – 8
Over the past two decades, extraordinary progress has been made in the ability to treat and cure hep C, and today we are at a critical juncture. New medicines are available that can transform hep C treatment, curing more people than ever before, reducing morbidity and saving thousands of lives. Much of the discussion around these technologies so far has been focused on the price and volume of these new drugs and whether the health care system can afford them. Interestingly, previous treatment regimens for hep C cost the same or more (depending on the length of treatment), take at least twice as long to administer, are less effective and can often require other health care services. 12, xxii
The debate over access to highly innovative, game changing drugs will continue, specifically: how does one reward and pay for innovation? In this report, we highlight the undeniable success in science and innovation in the hep C field along with the consequences if, as a society, we fail to act. At the same time we recognize that scientific innovation alone is not enough to save the lives of all US patients with hep C. The creation of policies and mechanisms that will place the right patients on the right treatments is necessary and urgent. To succeed, we will need the close and productive cooperation of all stakeholders.
As the world awaits cures for other devastating diseases (Alzheimer’s, HIV, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, and more) and expects pharmaceutical companies to invest billions in R&D for these and other conditions, public health will be best served by understanding and appreciating the value of innovation in addition to its costs. Medical innovation can transform human life, but it requires significant investments. While economic arguments about the value of new medicines are certainly warranted, it is also critical to appreciate the unique opportunity to save and improve lives that these treatments represent.
12 Brennan and Shrank (2014) published that a 12-week course of sofosbuvir plus pegylated interferon and ribavirin costs $116,910.72; a 24-week course of telaprevir plus pegylated interferon and ribavirin is $111,606.48 or $143,827.92 for 48 weeks.