California Healthcare Institute (CHI) Releases Report Highlighting Public Impact Of Hepatitis C, Opportunities For Action In U.S.

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(LA JOLLA, Calif., July 29, 2014) – CHI-California Healthcare Institute today unveiled a report that provides a comprehensive overview of the hepatitis C (hep C) epidemic in the U.S., the rise of treatments and the potential of these treatments to reduce human suffering. The report examines key data to provide a broader understanding of the impact of hep C, while highlighting the significance of breakthroughs that have brought us to a new era of treatment. CHI is a nonprofit, public policy research organization, representing leading California academic institutions, biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics and pharmaceutical firms.

Developed in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the report is titled “Innovation in Hepatitis C Treatment: New Opportunities for Action” and examines the tremendous progress that has been made, from medicines with low cure rates, burdensome regimens and significant side effects to today's extremely successful, pill-only treatments, while exploring the impact that progressive innovation has had on the hep C epidemic domestically. Additionally, it provides background on low diagnosis rates that leave perhaps 2 million hep C-infected Americans in the dark about their status, while also highlighting low treatment rates, even among those aware of their status.

“By producing this report we hope to call attention to the positive impact that new treatments and innovation can have in curtailing hep C,” said CHI President and CEO Todd Gillenwater. “While the current debate tends to center on how to price these new treatments, how to pay for them, and who should be treated, we believe the discussion should also be framed by understanding the undeniable success in innovation that has brought us to this point and the opportunity we now have before us.”

Key facts and report highlights:

o Approximately 480,000 Americans infected with hep C are uninsured, and an additional 430,000 are on Medicaid insurance, the government's program for low-income individuals and families.
o Hep C has a considerable economic cost, largely because of its high prevalence in the U.S. A 2013 study estimated that U.S. commercial payers spend five times as much on hep C–positive patients as they do on their average members.
o Hep C is currently the nation’s leading cause of liver cancer. It is also the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S.; in many instances, liver transplants, a procedure that can cost $500,000, is the only treatment option for advanced cirrhosis or liver cancer.
o Those below the poverty line are three times more likely to have been exposed to HCV than those with higher incomes.
o Hep C progresses slowly but can be fatal. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that for every 100 patients infected with hep C, 65 will develop chronic liver disease, 13 will develop cirrhosis, and 3 will die as a consequence of their infection.
o In 2010, 16,622 hep C–related deaths were recorded; however, after taking into account the underdiagnosis of the disease and inadequate record-keeping, it has been estimated that hep C-related mortality may be closer to 53,000 people annually in the U.S.

The report also studies the impact on public health and the opportunity for action by addressing the question: how much better off today and tomorrow are people in the U.S. due to the enormous advancements in hep C treatments? In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Analysis (CDA), the report employs key data that points to a resounding positive impact on public health, suggesting that the new medicines may prevent at least 30,000 hep C-related deaths and 16,000 cases of liver cancer over the next 15 years. While the exact figures are dependent on many assumptions further addressed in the report, the trend of the mortality curves over time is a clear indication of the difference that improved medicines can make in saving lives.

“It’s our goal to shed light on a critical intersection we’ve arrived at: new therapies are available that have the ability to profoundly change the face of hep C treatment, curing more people than ever before, while reducing suffering and saving thousands of lives,” said Gillenwater. “The increased public debate and scrutiny over the pricing of new treatments should be addressed but can also cloud the bigger picture regarding the incredible strides we’ve made in recent years to treat and cure hep C.”

Medical innovation can transform human life, but it requires significant investments. As the world awaits cures for other devastating diseases and expects pharmaceutical companies to invest billions in R&D for these and other conditions, public health will be best served by understanding and appreciating the value of innovation in addition to its costs.

“Through the inclusion of all stakeholders, scientific innovation - coupled with the implementation of common sense policies and delivery mechanisms - can set us on a positive trajectory towards improving the lives of millions affected by hep C,” said Gillenwater.

Click here to read the full report on CHI’s website.

About CHI-California Healthcare Institute
CHI represents more than 275 leading biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies, and public and private academic biomedical research organizations. CHI’s mission is to advance biomedical research, investment and innovation through effective advocacy of policies to improve public health and ensure continued vitality of the life sciences sector. CHI’s website is Follow us on Twitter @calhealthcare, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Will Zasadny
Communications Manager, CHI-California Healthcare Institute
858-456-8885 or 619-961-8848

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