The Wall Street Journal

High Cost of New Hepatitis C Drugs Strains Prison Budgets, Locks Many Out of Cure

September 12, 2016 | Peter Loftus and Gary Fields | The Wall Street Journal

GRATERFORD, Pa.—David Maldonado, an inmate at a Pennsylvania state prison, is one of thousands of convicted criminals with hepatitis C, an infectious disease that is one of the country’s biggest killers. Powerful new drugs on the market could help Mr. Maldonado and cut the chances of it spreading outside prison walls.

The medicines, however, are so expensive, and the problem so widespread, that to treat all sufferers would blow up most prison budgets. List prices for the newer drugs range from $54,000 to $94,000 a person for a typical 12-week course.

Pennsylvania’s corrections department has given the drugs to inmates at high risk of developing liver problems and with low blood-platelet levels. Mr. Maldonado isn’t among them, because his disease isn’t advanced enough to meet the department’s criteria, and he has sued seeking treatment.

Read more →