[Ip-health] PhRMA defense of Hepatitis C drug prices

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Thu Jul 24 05:04:57 PDT 2014

Jennifer Wall is a former staffer for the Homeland Security Committee and
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Now she works for PhRMA, and describes
hereself on twitter as:"PR gal for the biopharmaceutical industry"

Here is her blog, defending the high prices for Hepatitis C drugs.  The
main point in the blog is that the new drugs are less costly than not
treating persons with severe outcomes.



Debunking the Myths of Treating Hepatitis C
07.21.14 | By Jennifer Wall

A national dialogue is needed around the value of new medicines and cures
and the role they play in improving patient health and helping to manage
long-term spending in the U.S. health care system.   Unfortunately, the
debate around hepatitis C has, for the most part, been twisted to the point
that modern-day cures are seen as a nuisance rather than a monumental step
forward in the battle against disease.  For this reason, it is important to
set the record straight on some of the misperceptions about the value of
new and forthcoming hepatitis C treatments.

Myth: New treatments for hepatitis C could double prescription drug
spending in 2014.

Fact: New treatments for hepatitis C are projected to increase health care
costs by ONLY half a percent in 2014.

New cures for hepatitis C can help prevent up to $85 billion in medical
costs in the U.S. health care system.

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that these new treatments
would actually have a minor effect on growth in 2014.  In fact, the report
projects that new hepatitis C treatment will impact growth in health care
costs in 2014 by only a half a percent but the impact will fall in future
years and level off after 2016 as patients are cured.

The report also notes that “long-term savings for chronic treatments, liver
transplants, and lost productivity may ultimately offset the cost of these
specialty drugs for the most seriously ill patients.”

IMS Health estimates that total drug spending, including specialty
medicines, is projected to remain at historically low levels, averaging one
to four percent annually until 2017.

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver
transplantation, and the medical costs associated with these very serious
complications are no minor expense.

End stage liver disease average annual treatment costs are estimated at
$59,995 per patient and for those with liver cancer, costs are estimated at

Liver transplant costs range as high as $500,000 and require many years of
costly follow up care.

Myth: New treatments for hepatitis C are not worth the cost.

Fact: New and forthcoming hepatitis C treatments can cure over 90 percent
of patients, providing tremendous value to patients and society.

Until recently, available therapies used to treat HCV infection cured only
about half of patients, but with debilitating flu‐like side effects. For
those who failed to respond to treatment, there were no alternative
medicines to treat the disease.

With new and forthcoming treatments, patients will be more likely to adhere
to their medication regimens given that there are fewer side effects and
non-injectable options are now available.

The availability of more effective treatments provide the opportunity to
improve outcomes for HCV patients who are frequently unable to work or have
significantly more lost work days per employee than other workers,
including sick leave, short‐term disability, and long‐term disability.

Myth: All three million people estimated to have hepatitis C in the U.S.
will be treated with new medicines in 2014.

Fact: More than three out of four people with hepatitis C do not know they
are infected and are therefore unlikely to seek treatment for the disease
this year.

Unfortunately, progression of the disease occurs slowly, meaning patients
often remain asymptomatic, and unaware they are infected, until very
serious and often expensive complications emerge.

Even among those Americans seeking testing, half do not return to obtain
their results and are therefore unaware of their infection.

Among those in the commercially insured market, PricewaterhouseCoopers
estimates that only about 60,000 hepatitis C patients will be treated in

Myth: Payers will pay the list price of new hepatitis C treatments for all
patients getting treated.

Fact: Insurers negotiate prices with drug manufacturers and the government
mandates discounts in some public programs.

The Medicaid and the Veterans Affairs program receive statutorily-set
rebates on prescription medicines, plus additional rebates in some

Plans and biopharmaceutical manufacturers also negotiate discounts and
rebates on medicines in both the Medicare Part D program and commercial

Potential savings could be realized from competition as more hepatitis C
medicines enter the market over the next year.

James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
http://www.keionline.org, KEI DC tel: +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile:
+1.202.361.3040, Geneva Mobile: +41.76.413.6584,   twitter.com/jamie_love

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