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HAZARD, Ky. — The patients here ask about the treatment by name. They’ve seen the crisp, alluring ads on TV and heard the soothing spots on the radio: Harvoni, they know, could cure their hepatitis C.

But in this town, carved into the Appalachian mountains, in a state beset by hepatitis C rates seven times the national average, Harvoni and other new hepatitis C drugs remain largely out of reach. Over the past year, only 3 percent of the state’s Medicaid beneficiaries with the disease received treatment.

“It’s very hard to see the patient and just tell them, ‘I can’t treat you,’” said Dr. Fares Khater, an infectious disease doctor in nearby Whitesburg.

A major reason is cost, with list prices for some 12-week treatment courses approaching $100,000. But a series of other forces helps explain why Kentucky is struggling to respond to the hepatitis C crisis, including a growing opioid epidemic that is fueling new cases and a changing patient base that is demanding hard choices be made about who gets treatment first.

… Read More

Image: By Robert Hall – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Olybrius using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20431378

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