Study Looks at Barriers to Hepatitis C Treatment

AUGUST 18, 2016
Catherine Kolonko
hepatitis, hepatitis c, hcv, hcv treatment, database, research, internal medicine, liver function, infectious disease, public health, substance abuse, intravenous drug use, social medicine Beyond high cost, people with hepatitis C face several barriers to treatment, and those arise from various sources. Doctors, Medicaid, private health insurance companies, and intravenous drug use can all be obstacles, according to a university study out of Massachusetts that examined treatment approvals for two new drugs.
 
Researchers looked at access through the lens of the Massachusetts Medicaid Program (MassHealth) by analyzing prior approval requests for sofosbuvir and simeprevir hepatitis C treatments. Results of the study, led by Karen Clements, assistant professor of quantitative health sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a senior project director in Commonwealth Medicine, was published in the June edition of the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.
 
New medications to treat hepatitis C have improved cure rates but are more expensive than traditional therapies, noted the authors. Given that most state Medicaid programs require prior authorization for new medicines, they sought to evaluate the percentage of MassHealth patients with hepatitis C who requested and received approval for treatment using sofosbuvir or simeprevir, two of the new drugs used to treat the virus.
 
The authors noted that other barriers exist outside of cost and insurance requirements.
 
“For example, some potential patients may not have a regular source of care or may have difficulty adhering to treatment regimens because of medical or social conditions such as SUD (substance use disorder) or unstable housing,” stated the authors. “Physicians, too, may be reluctant to treat patients whom they perceive to be poor risks for achieving successful outcomes.”
 


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