From Donna Cryer, President and CEO
Global Liver Institute
On World Hepatitis Day we should be rejoicing that thanks to cutting edge research,
breakthrough treatments are now available that can cure hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is at epidemic levels in all 50 states. More than 3 million Americans are estimated to be living with hepatitis C and more than 15,000 Americans die each year from hepatitis C-related illnesses.
Yet while hepatitis C is a major public health issue, there has been no response to this crisis at the national level.
In fact, though a cure is available, it has been systematically denied by both public and private health plans. This is unprecedented.
By denying or delaying treatment, insurers are making decisions that should be made between a patient and their physicians.
As a liver transplant patient, who knows first-hand the human cost of liver disease, I find this indefensible.
I’m therefore pleased to announce the launch of the Cure Campaign: a new initiative that we hope will help bring an end to these practices.
Brought to you by The Global Liver Institute, the Cure Campaign is a multi-stakeholder collaborative effort led by patients and physicians dedicated to increasing access to a cure for people living with hepatitis C through education and awareness as well as through outreach to key influencers.
There are a lot of misperceptions about the new breakthrough treatments for hepatitis C.
The fact is, a cure for hepatitis C is cost effective. Market forces and competition have cut the price for hepatitis C treatments roughly in half. Without access to a cure, annual health care costs to treat the effects of hepatitis C are expected to more than double to $80 billion in just over 10 years. Yet this is seldom reported in the press.
But this isn’t just about the cost of care. People with hepatitis C need to be valued. They include veterans who have served their country, first responders who daily put their lives on the line and parents and grandparents. Minorities are disproportionately impacted: 3% of those infected with hepatitis C are African- American and 2.6% are Latino, compared to 1.5% of the general population.
Through the Cure Campaign, we are not only focused on raising awareness that a cure exists, but are also reaching out to insurers, lawmakers and government officials to urge them to take actions that could eradicate hepatitis C.
We are calling for:
All restrictions to access be dropped by public and private payers.
The U.S. Surgeon General to take a stand to make access to a cure a priority.
The administration and Congress to authorize enhanced Federal matching funds for this class of breakthrough therapies to address the upfront investment needed for these cures.
States to develop multi-year processes for innovative, high-value treatments that effect a large portion of the population.
There is much to accomplish, and we need your help.
Through the Cure Campaign we hope to empower patients, caregivers, clinicians and other advocates to reach out to lawmakers and insurance providers and encourage them to give everyone with hepatitis C access to a cure.
By sending a letter to your elected officials and state health insurance commissioners, sharing social media messages, or relaying your stories to others, you can help make a difference.
I hope that you will join us. Taking action today can save lives tomorrow.