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High-cost hepatitis C pill sees 8% non-adherence rate

By Jennifer Bresnick

- The 95% effective hepatitis C therapy that made the healthcare industry do a double-take at the $1000-per-day price tag is presenting some serious medication adherence problems for patients who are prescribed the 12-week course of therapy.  New research from CVS shows that one in twelve patients will discontinue Sovaldi before finishing their prescription, costing the healthcare system tens of thousands of dollars without a guarantee that the virus is cured.

“While Sovaldi represents a breakthrough in the treatment of Hepatitis C, this is an expensive drug that needs to be taken as directed for the full course of treatment in order to achieve the maximum clinical benefit demonstrated in the trials,” says Troyen A. Brennan, MD, Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health. “Our data suggest that in order to help patients achieve their treatment goals, we need to ensure that those patients who are prescribed Sovaldi are adherent to their full course of therapy.”

“These findings reiterate that outside of clinical trials, patients are at a higher risk of not completing their course of therapy, representing a substantial cost to the health care system without achieving the desired clinical benefit,” added Alan Lotvin, MD, EVP of CVS/specialty, CVS Health.

Medication adherence is an issue of deep concern across the healthcare industry, but the expense of the treatment coupled with the fact that more than 3 million Americans have or carry the hepatitis C virus, complicates the matter.  “While the drug is extremely effective and may offer value in terms of reducing downstream costs, the short-term monetary outlays are considerable and were largely unexpected. The costs have led to an outcry from payors and policymakers, and resulted in widespread debates about the ‘fairness’ of the medication’s pricing,” says the research paper.

CVS recommends that Sovaldi patients are followed closely during their therapy to ensure that they are taking the medication as prescribed to avoid the wasted costs of a half-completed program.



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