BY EMILY ALPERT REYESSTAFF WRITER
MARCH 9, 2023 1:14 PM PT LA Times
The Biden administration is seeking billions of dollars for a new push to wipe out hepatitis C, a virus that has continued to kill thousands of people annually in the U.S. despite the existence of extremely effective medications that can cure the infection within months.
The five-year program, outlined as part of a broader budget proposal Thursday by White House officials, has been estimated to have a net cost of $5 billion over a decade, said Dr. Francis Collins, a special advisor to the president for special projects.
It would require an upfront investment now estimated at more than $11 billion over five years, which Collins said would be offset by government savings from preventing liver failure and other conditions that result from hepatitis C — and therefore avoiding the costs of treating them.
The exact costs would hinge on negotiations with drugmakers, who would be paid a lump sum to make an unlimited supply of direct-acting antiviral pills available to patients on Medicaid, as well as those who are uninsured, incarcerated or treated through the Indian Health Service, said Collins, the former director of the National Institutes of Health.
Such “subscription” deals have already been tested in some states in an effort to expand access to the lifesaving medication.
White House officials said the medicines can now cost roughly $20,000 per patient, but researchers have found curing patients can ultimately save money that would later be spent treating liver ailments.
TO CONTINUE READING: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2023-03-09/biden-seeks-billions-to-wipe-out-a-hepatitis-c
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will request “significant investments” to help eliminate hepatitis C in the United States in its forthcoming budget proposal, according to Francis Collins, the former NIH director leading the project.
Collins declined to provide too many further details before the official budget request later this week, but Rep. Hank Johnson, (D-Ga.), who joined Collins at a STAT event on the subject Tuesday, suggested the request could potentially be as big as $10 billion over five years. Collins also pointed out that the plan “fits nicely” with President Biden’s broader cancer moonshot, an initiative aimed at halving the cancer rate in 25 years, since hepatitis C is one of the leading causes of liver cancer.
“I would like, if it’s possible, to be as bold as possible, and contemplate not just an effort that would improve the situation, but that would eliminate hepatitis C in the United States,” Collins said at the event. “That’s a scary word, and obviously would require a huge investment, to try to reach everybody.”
He also said he’s hoping the initiative would be funded as “mandatory” spending, which would ensure it would not need to be renewed each year by Congress. Johnson, too, referenced a potential request for mandatory spending.
The Biden administration is expected to release more details about its federal budget later this week.
TO CONTINUE READING: https://www.statnews.com/2023/03/07/francis-collins-budget-eliminating-hep-c/