August 20, 2018

Louisiana would have 'unlimited access' to hep C treatment with new proposal

Daily Briefing

    Amid a growing number of hepatitis C cases, Louisiana last week unveiled its proposal for a subscription-based payment model for hepatitis C drugs to increase medication access for its Medicaid and prison populations.

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     New model proposes unlimited access to hep C drugs

     Louisiana's proposed payment model would work similarly to a Netflix subscription, Sam Baker reports for Axios' "Vitals": The state—the buyer—would gain unlimited access to a specified product for a fixed price.

     Under the proposed model, Louisiana would make one set payment to drug companies to access the amount of hepatitis C medication necessary to treat Louisiana Medicaid beneficiaries and correctional populations.  

     In a Request for Information, the Louisiana Department of Health said, "[T]his payment would create an incentive for the state to find and treat as many people enrolled in Medicaid as possible" and "would enable the drug manufacturer to expand their product reach into populations that otherwise would not have received treatment."

     According to "Vitals," lead manufacturers of hepatitis C drugs are "on board" with the model.

     Comments on the proposed model are due Aug. 24.

     A 'public health crisis' in Louisiana

     The Louisiana Department of Health said the high rate of hepatitis C infection is "causing a public health crisis" in Louisiana and that the payment model could help "eliminate hepatitis C as a public health problem."

     The health department said only a "tiny fraction of those who need" antiretroviral medication to treat the infection are able to get it. In fact, the RFI stated, at current drug prices, treating everyone in need would be "impossible" (Bean, Becker's Hospital Review, 8/10; Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 8/10; Louisiana Department of Health RFI, 8/13).

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