October 6, 2014 | Today a coalition of 40 community health organizations, medical professionals, and others from across New York State issued comments on proposed guidelines by the state’s Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board that would greatly restrict access to Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), the backbone of new, highly effective treatment for hepatitis C (HCV) infection. If adopted, the proposed guidelines would limit treatment only to people who have already developed serious, potentially irreversible liver damage, deny treatment to many people who use drugs, and complicate treatment decisions for the 30% of New Yorkers living with HIV who are HCV-coinfected.
Criticizing the Board for purely acting on cost-containment grounds, the coalition called on NYS to issue final guidance that is based on clinical evidence, involves consultation with recognized HCV medical experts and patient advocates, and which includes an exceptions process for any individual to appeal a denial of access based on their specific individual circumstances.
Advocates still have major concerns with Gilead’s extortionate pricing decision, which has put the market price of Sovaldi at $84,000 for a 12 week course of treatment. Medicaid, however, receives a significant discount, and while we want to see New York use every power at its disposal to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry, it cannot come at the expense of people’s lives.