Manage Your Liver
Q:

More than 90% of people think the price of Hepatitis C drugs is unreasonable.

More than 90% of people think the price of Hepatitis C drugs is unreasonable.
A:

New hepatitis C drugs launched in recent years work better than conventional anti-viral therapy. The new drugs can stop viral replication in the patient’s body, so that the viruses stop multiplying. The new drugs have caused much social repercussions, apart from all the reviews of its efficacy; its hefty price tag has also lead to a lot of opinions. The set price is $1,125 USD per pill. With a full course treatment requiring 12 weeks, the treatment cost is about $100,000 USD. Some patients might even require double the treatment time - 24 weeks. [1][2] 

 

A survey conducted by Harvard University and STAT in 2015 showed that 92% of Americans believe that the price of the new hepatitis C drug is unreasonable. [3]

 

However, some explained that, if the virus is successfully eradicated, the risk of liver cancer, liver failure and the need for a liver transplant decreases by more than 80%, thus saving money in the long run. [4][5] We do not understand this, because even after the viruses have been cleared in the patient’s body, there are still many other things that could cause liver damage or liver cancer, e.g. alcohol, fat, drugs, heavy metal etc.  Moreover, the drug does not provide future immunity against hepatitis C, which means that the patient might contract the virus again. [6] Therefore, this claim does not seem to have enough evidence and support. It seems misleading and is probably just an excuse to persuade patients to pay for such an expensive drug.

 

Is the price of the new hepatitis C drug reasonable? Should or can patients afford it? We believe that the first and foremost thing patients need to consider is the function of the drug. The best treatment and solution should be one that can recover the patient’s liver health. Although the new drug can effectively control the replication of the virus, it cannot guarantee the recovery of damage and injury done in the liver (from long-term inflammation and fibrosis). Studies have already proven that the extent of liver damage does not correlate with measures of viral load. i.e. having no viruses in the body does not mean that a person has little liver damage or a healthy liver. Likewise, even if the body contains a large amount of virus, the liver can still remain healthy. [7]

 

We know that advanced liver diseases and severe liver damage is mainly caused by chronic inflammation of the liver. Long-term inflammation of the liver can lead to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, or liver cancer, which are the main reasons for liver transplant and surgery. [8] To prevent severe liver diseases caused by chronic hepatitis C or to treat hepatitis C itself can be done simply by stopping inflammation of the liver. Only when the liver is no longer inflamed will the patient be truly able to reduce the risks of liver cancer and the chances of a liver transplant.

 

Therefore, the viral count is not the most important issue; instead, stopping inflammation of the liver and resuming normal liver function should be the primary aim for the patient. Allow us to use YHK as an example, studies have shown that after using YHK for 10 to 30 days, inflammation in the liver stopped and liver function is normalized. [9][10][11] The price of a 30-day course is $419 USD. If patients consider and weigh their options with the primary aim of recovering liver health in mind, which method would be the most favourable? Which would be the best solution to the patient’s problem? The answer is very clear. Why should patients choose an extremely expensive drug that does not guarantee their problem can be solved completely?

Reference:
  1. Cost of Harvoni http://blogs.hepmag.com/lucindakporter/2014/10/harvoni_what_you_nee.html (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  2. Cost of Harvoni http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/payers-hit-back-gilead-94500-price-tag-brand-new-hep-c-combo-pill/2014-10-13 (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  3. 92% saying high price is unreasonable https://cdn1.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/94/2015/11/STAT-Harvard-Poll-Nov-2015-Controversy-Over-Rising-Drug-Prices.pdf (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  4. Harvoni save money in the long run? http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/opinion/costly-hepatitis-c-drugs-for-everyone.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  5. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/23/457145471/treating-prisoners-with-hepatitis-c-may-be-worth-the-hefty-price (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  6. Re-Infection http://www.hepatitiscentral.com/news/after-being-cured-can-hep-c-return/ (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  7. The extent of liver damage does not correlate with measures of HBV DNA or HCV RNA. A low viral load does not mean a person has little liver damage, nor does a high viral load necessarily indicate more severe infection or more advanced disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92030/ (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  8. Cause of cirrhosis http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/cirrhosis/Pages/ez.aspx#cause (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  9. YHK lowers ALT level https://www.kyotsujigyo.net/document/yhk/02.pdf (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  10. YHK have clear effect in lowering ALT & AST https://www.kyotsujigyo.net/document/yhk/10_clincial.pdf (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
  11. Showed a significant improvement of either fibrosis and of inflammatory infiltrate. https://www.kyotsujigyo.net/document/yhk/13_clincial.pdf (Accessed: 2015-12-10)
Disclaimer:
  • * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.
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