In a September 2 editorial, The New York Times Editorial Board concludes that “competitive market forces and hard-nosed bargaining” make “tremendously effective” new hepatitis C medicines not just more accessible to ailing patients – but also offer good value to the U.S. health care system.
“The benefits of these new drugs are undeniable,” the Times editors write. “They can essentially cure the infection in eight to 24 weeks. Older medications are not nearly as effective and often produce disabling side effects. Curing the patient decreases by more than 80 percent the risk of liver cancer, liver failure and the need for a liver transplant, thus saving money in the long run.”
The editors document how negotiation and discounting make one of the new medicines “a high value for individual patients and for most health care systems,” citing the research-backed opinion of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review – an evolution in the Review’s position on the value of the new treatments.
The editors finish with a word of caution to some insurers that have been restricting access to the new breakthrough medicines: “[These] restrictions run counter to guidelines published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.”
The Times editors aren’t alone in their opinion. In a June 9 letter to President Obama, the editors note, the Presidential Advisory Council on H.I.V./AIDS counseled removing the “unreasonable” restrictions, noting that the increasingly competitive marketplace had “dramatically reduced” treatment costs and improved benefits to the nation's patients.