Hepatitis C drug one of the most costly for state Medicaid programs: 4 things to know

Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi, a drug that can cure hepatitis C, was among the top pharmaceutical costs in most states' Medicaid budgets in 2014, according to a National Public Radio report.

Here are four things to know about the hepatitis C drug.

1. Medicaid programs in 33 states were only able treat 2.4 percent of some 700,000 enrollees infected with hepatitis C, despite spending more than $1 billion on the drug in 2014, according to data released Tuesday by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

2. State-reported data from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., show that Sovaldi ranked among the top five pharmaceutical spending items for 33 different state Medicaid programs. Fourteen states reported Sovaldi was the top pharmaceutical cost for their fee-for-service, managed care or combined programs. Fifteen more reported Sovaldi was the second highest cost. Four more states reported Sovaldi ranked third, fourth or fifth in their pharmaceutical spending in 2014.

2. New York spent the most to treat hepatitis C with Sovaldi in 2014. The state's Medicaid program spent more than $360 million for Sovaldi to treat about 4,000 of its nearly 60,000 Medicaid recipients who have the disease, according to NPR.

3. Pennsylvania came in after New York, spending $98 million in 2014 to treat 1,059 Medicaid recipients with hepatitis C. Another 30,000 Pennsylvanians are infected, the data show, according to NPR.

4. Aside from Sovaldi, many states also spent smaller amounts on Harvoni, Gilead's other hepatitis drug, which was approved last year, according to the data released by the senators.


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