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Peginterferon-Ribavirin, Failed it twice. Incivek, Failed it. Sovaldi Olysio, failed it. Harvoni, failed it... Transplant Patient Zepatier and Sovaldi...we'll find out!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The walls we build.

There are a lot of barriers to Hepatitis C (HCV) treatment.

Let's break 'em down, so we can break through 'em.

1. The biggest is awareness of the virus. Most of those infected with HCV don't know they have it.

2. The second is non-adherence. Basically patients don't meet up with specialists, cut corners and avoid tests. Typically it's only two or three tests at any given time, but it can be as high as seven if there is enough liver degradation.

3. Financial hurdles: this is a lot more complicated, in 2013  medical debt was the number one source of bankruptcy in the US. 2013 also saw the major roll outs of the ACA aka Obamacare. since then medical debt has fallen and medical costs have also gone down on average. In 2015 we can see the benefits of having most of the country insured.

New players: With the rise of the insured, drug companies and insurance companies are fighting to hold on to patients. finical support is becoming a regular part of both sector's products.

The scary part about this, is how realistic they are: services being rendered to 200-500% of poverty level. They're well aware of high medical costs, and a poverty level that is absolutely absurd.

Despite its decline, medical costs will be a large hurdle.

4. There is also something to be said for the combination of non-adherence and financial hurdles:

In 2008-2013 i had over 90 sick days used for medical related absences. most of which were planned for tests, treatments or appointments. I was nearly let go twice due to my excessive absences. I was saved by a law called FMLA.

About spring 2011 I ran out of paid sick days, which meant that every sick day was on my own dime. Which meant smaller pay checks to pay bigger bills.

To this day half my medical costs equal about half of my income.

5. Stigma: People don't like getting treatment because it means they probably need to tell someone about the problem. I've always been of the notion that a few coworkers of mine should know, just in case something happens. But many others i know, tell no one they work with. And often fear being shamed and judged by their coworkers. Or worse being targeted and being pressured to quit, or being fired for some other reason.

6. Psychiatric illness:

Yes, there's something wrong and while many with HCV suffer from irritability to severe depression. There is assistance in the form of all manner of therapy and counseling. This has its own hurdles.

7. Aegrescit Medendo:

"The cure is often worse than the illness itself." HCV has had a really weird last decade.

HCV is known as a silent killer, because often those who have it, aren't aware until it's already causing cirrhosis. Which means that for the bulk of people with HCV, they're going to have minimal side effects for the first few decades of its infection (oh, it's still destroying your liver, it's just being a ninja about it).

And up until 2013, side effects from treatment were horrible! So why would someone be inclined to make that switch until it rear's its ugly head. I mean besides their kids, loved ones, friends, and naturally their own life.

This hurdle is no longer the case.

From 2013 onward the (DAAs especially) treatments are relatively asymptomatic, and often only either emphasize or improve the patient's own symptoms.

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