“Hep C case against Washington state Medicaid harbinger of things to come in era of high price drugs,” published in June 27, 2016 by reporter Molly Rosbach, examines the lawsuit against Washington state’s Health Care Authority from the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger, and Columbia Legal Services.
“The moral stigma of Hep C, often seen as a disease exclusive to drug addicts, seems to skew insurers’ policies, advocates say.
‘I think it’s safe to say that if the new drug is for Alzheimer’s, or the new drug is for cancer, and a payer’s response was, “We’re going to wait until the cancer metastasizes to Stage 4,” there would be widespread outcry,’ said Kevin Costello, director of litigation in the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School. Costello was co-counsel in the lawsuit…
with increased competition from newer drugs, such as Merck’s Zepatier, which came out in January at a list price of $54,600, the actual cost to Medicaid programs for Harvoni could drop into the $20,000 range, Greenwald said.
‘One could argue that our system is working, because in a relatively short period of time, the price of the cure has decreased dramatically,’ he said. ‘I’m sure all the companies are in there trying to negotiate a system of cost that gets them on the preferred-drug list’ with state Medicaid programs, which gets ‘as many people as possible to take their medications, in exchange for reduced cost.’”