Part of a series of posts about common chronic illnesses and what happens when people cannot afford prescription medications to treat them.
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and causes inflammation. An estimated 3.5 million Americans are living with hepatitis C, with about half unaware they even have it. Recent advancements in hepatitis C treatments have greatly improved. New medications can lead to a cure in about 90 percent of people. But the prices for such treatments are prohibiting access and that means more people will remain sick and sometimes die. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2014, hepatitis C related deaths reached an all-time high of 19,659, killing more Americans each year than all other infectious diseases combined, including HIV.
Pay-for-delay deals undermine the intent of the Hatch-Waxman Act, which was passed in 1984 to encourage generic drug companies to bring lower cost medications to market at the earliest – not the latest – point possible. A 2010 FTC report recommended that Congress pass legislation to protect consumers from such anticompetitive agreements. The FTC wrote: “a legislative solution offers the quickest and clearest way to deter these agreements and obtain the benefits of generic competitions form consumers. (more…)