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Hepatitis Awareness Month: 5 hepatitis C facts beyond blockbuster drug prices 

The $100,000-plus price tags for hepatitis C drugs have been getting lots of attention. But they aren’t the whole story. Here are five other important facts to know.


May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. Hepatitis C is the most common type, and unlike other types, there is no preventive vaccine. Millions of Americans have hepatitis C, and it can lead to severe complications, even death, if left untreated. Expensive, new treatments have been creating headline buzz for the past few years, but there’s more to the story. Here are five other hepatitis C facts you may not know:

  1. Deaths are at an all-time high.
    New data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) show that hepatitis C kills more Americans than HIV, tuberculosis and staph infection.1 Of every 100 people infected, one to five will die from the consequences of chronic infection (liver cancer or cirrhosis).2

  2. Half of infected people don’t know they have it.
    Between 2.5 and 4.7 million American are estimated to be infected with hepatitis C.But at least half of them don’t know their status and haven’t been tested.1 The majority of those infected are Baby Boomers.1 Find out if you may be at risk with a 5-minue assessment developed by the CDC.

  3. New drugs offer cure rates up to 100 percent.
    Although exceptionally expensive (up to $1,000 per pill), the new class of hepatitis drugs introduced in 2014 offer extraordinary cure rates. Sovaldi®, Harvoni®, Olysio®, Viekira PakTM and the most recently approved drug, Technivie®, have cure rates of up to 100 percent.3

  4. When members pay less, they are more likely to start treatment.
    A Prime study found that, when members were faced with out-of-pocket costs greater than $250, abandonment rates nearly doubled. The study also found that pharmacy choice matters. Members who used Prime Therapeutics Specialty Pharmacy were much less likely to abandon therapy than members using other specialty pharmacies.

  5. Public exchange members are almost twice as likely to have hepatitis C.
    Prime’s 2014 public exchange report, Defining evolution, found that exchange members  were nearly twice as likely as commercial members to have filled a claim for medicines used to treat hepatitis C.

What can plan sponsors do?
Hepatitis C medicines are a significant and growing cost concern for plan sponsors. In 2015, even though very few people use these medicines, they accounted for nearly 5 percent of all drug costs.4 To control these costs and help optimize outcomes for members, plan sponsors have to make sure the right people are getting the right medicines at the right time. Implementing strategies such as preferred products, benefit design, utilization management and care management programs may help.


1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/05/04/hepatitis-c-related-deaths-hits-record-high-in-u-s-cdc-says/?utm_campaign=KHN%3A+First+Edition&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=29284076&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8-nMmF1DrIsrscXOTSbAYmhoGM55Kw_ULDE81qpixZ-0KaLoNRQ8OFib8o-T3UzOaP8OO9gwhz9ktsvFXCRrY1t51uthARzsMamI92wEJtFyRum7o&_hsmi=29284076

2. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/hcvfaq.htm#section

3. http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/features/cure

4. Prime Therapeutics internal data. (2015.)


About Prime Therapeutics

Prime Therapeutics LLC (Prime) helps people get the medicine they need to feel better and live well. Prime manages pharmacy benefits for health plans, employers, and government programs including Medicare and Medicaid. The company processes claims and delivers medicine to members, offering clinical services for people with complex medical conditions. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., Prime serves nearly 26 million people. It is collectively owned by 13 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, subsidiaries or affiliates of those plans. Prime has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation.  

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