Access to Hepatitis C Therapy Listening Session with Community Stakeholders

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convened a listening session on the important issue of access to curative treatment for hepatitis C virus infection. While the advent of more effective, second-generation direct-acting antivirals for the treatment of hepatitis C represents a tremendous scientific accomplishment and a potential public health triumph, community leaders and other stakeholders have raised serious concerns about barriers to treatment access. Many of these concerns had been expressed in a community sign-on letter sent to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in early September 2014.

The listening session was hosted by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and led by Dr. Wanda Jones, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health. The Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, was able to attend the initial portion of the meeting, which took place at the Humphrey Building on December 9, 2014. Twelve stakeholders representing healthcare providers, advocates, persons infected with HCV, representatives of professional organizations, and national leaders from a variety of disciplines joined federal leaders from across HHS to share information about HCV treatment access barriers and their impact on people living with chronic viral hepatitis.

The stakeholders who attended the meeting were especially concerned about restrictions on access to the new HCV treatments put in place by payers, which, in the stakeholders’ opinion, do not appear to be medically justified. Listed below are three examples of restrictions, shared by the community stakeholders:

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