Medicare spending for hepatitis C cures surges

Medicare’s prescription drug program spent nearly $4.6 billion in the first half of this year on expensive new cures for the liver disease hepatitis C — almost as much as it paid for all of 2014.

Rebates from pharmaceutical companies — the amounts of which are confidential — will reduce Medicare’s final tab for the drugs, by up to half. Even so, the program’s spending will likely continue to rise, in part because of strong demand.

Medicare’s stunning outlays, spelled out in data requested from the government by ProPublica, raise troubling questions about how the taxpayer-funded program can afford not only these pricey medications but a slew of others coming on the market


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