NCL applauds the Biden Administration’s $11-billion budget proposal to eliminate Hepatitis C
March 22, 2023
Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, email@example.com, 202-823-8442
Washington, D.C. – President Biden has proposed significant funding for a historic national Hepatitis C elimination program. “President Biden’s efforts to create a mandatory national program to expand testing, treatment, and prevention of Hepatitis C is a major step forward in eradicating a disease for which we have a cure.” said Robin Strongin, NCL’s Health Policy Director. “We have the opportunity to use a proven oral medication to cure a lethal disease. NCL stands ready to assist and is pleased to see initial bipartisan, bicameral support to relinquish a disease affecting 2.4 million Americans.”
Hepatitis C is a viral liver infection transmitted through blood. Roughly 40% of people do not know that they are infected. Left untreated, Hep C can lead to chronic illness, including liver cancer and death. The tragedy here is that a cure has existed since 2013. The price of the once-daily, 8-12 week course of an oral therapy (pills) that cures the disease in 95% of patients is roughly $24,000, down from its original price, but still out of reach for many. Populations at increased risk of Hep C include people who use or inject drugs, people with HIV/AIDS, people experiencing homelessness, and the incarcerated.
The program overall is expected to cost $5.2 billion over 10 years after accounting for the reduced health care costs, and that’s only the financial calculation. It doesn’t take into account the number of lives saved from the devastation of losing a loved one. Dr. Francis Collins, the White House official who has championed this initiative from the beginning, estimates it would save more than 100,000 lives by 2050.
NCL echoes the sentiments expressed by White House Hep C senior advisors Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Rachael Fleurence in their recent op-ed:
“It is rare to have the opportunity, using a simple and safe oral medication, to eliminate a lethal disease. But that is the situation facing the United States with hepatitis C. Congressional support can make possible a historic public health initiative that can prevent suffering, save lives, and ultimately save money — to the benefit of all U.S. residents. How can we not do this?”
About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit nclnet.org.