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Hepatitis C: New Drug Therapies
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) affects more than 3 million people and is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States1. In late 2013, two new HCV therapies were approved by the FDA, simeprevir (Olysio) and sofosbuvir (Sovaldi)1. Note, some patients may experience a shorter and simpler drug regimen and fewer adverse effects1. Though these treatments are advanced and provide lesser side effects, they can be costly. Depending upon your treatment plan, the cost of treatment could be well over $100,000 dollars.
If you have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, here are some tips to avoid frustration and delay in treatment:
Tip #1: Know What You Are Taking To Treat your HCV and For How Long
Some treatments for HCV could be as short as 12 weeks and as long as 48 weeks depending on your response to the prescribed medication(s), the type of HCV being treated, and the stage of the disease. Knowing the details regarding your treatment plan will prepare you, mentally and physically, for what to expect during treatment and your potential out of pocket cost.
Tip #2: Stick To ONE Pharmacy
Sticking to one pharmacy will keep you organized and up to date on any therapy changes from your doctor. Also, it will save you time and reduces the risk of any drug not being refilled while on treatment. Adherence is really important when treating all illnesses and diseases, especially HCV. Also, due to the nature of the drug, your local pharmacy may not have the drug readily available. Your doctor may contact a Specialty Pharmacy to fill your prescriptions. This type of pharmacy can deliver or mail your prescriptions to your front door.
Tip #3: Ask Your Doctor/Pharmacy For A Co-Pay Savings Card.
Treatment for HCV can be expensive and a Co-Pay Savings card can be your best friend.Paying a reduced amount of any medication only benefits you in the long run. If a coupon saving card is not available at your doctor or pharmacy, call the manufacturer of the medication. The manufacturer may have a patient savings program that will help reduce the cost of the medication.
- Ollendorf, Daniel A. (2014). The Comparative Clinical Effectiveness and Value of Simprevir and Sofosbuvir for Chronic Hepatitis Virus Infection. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014;174(7).
- U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.(2014). Summary Table:Treatment Considerations and Choice of Regiment for HCV-Moninfected and HIV/HCV-Coinfected Patients. Retrieved July 21, 2014 from http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/provider/guidelines/2014hcv/summary-table-01.asp
Dr. Cedric L. Salone, Pharm.D., MPH is a residency trained pharmacist and currently works as a Clinical Pharmacist Program Specialist at the Edward J. Hines VA Hospital in metro Chicago.