Prisoners Sue Massachusetts for Withholding Hepatitis C Drugs

In the latest example of how the high price tags for hepatitis C drugs are limiting use in some of the most infected populations, two inmates in Massachusetts state prisons have filed a lawsuit accusing the state prison system of failing to provide the drugs to most infected prisoners.

More than 1,500 inmates in Massachusetts state prisons have hepatitis C, but only three are being treated for it, the lawsuit states, even though Gilead Sciences GILD +1.24% and AbbVie ABBV -0.29% introduced drugs since late 2013 that have higher cure rates and shorter treatment durations than older hepatitis C regimens.

“Prisoners who ought to receive the new medications are not receiving them, and a vast number of prisoners with Hepatitis C are not being afforded the necessary testing to determine whether they too should receive treatment,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Boston.

Lawyers from Prisoners’ Legal Services, a non-profit advocacy group, filed the lawsuit on behalf of inmates Emilian Paszko and Jeffrey Fowler. The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of other Massachusetts inmates infected with hepatitis C who have been denied treatment.


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