Strategies to Reduce the High Cost of Hepatitis C Treatment: A Literature Review
Abstract: Hepatitis C infection is a chronic, debilitating disease with complications such as liver cancer and liver cirrhosis. In the United States, hepatitis C infection can be cured only with direct acting antiviral treatment. However, the cost of hepatitis C treatment is expensive, hindering many Americans from receiving treatment. Insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies control access to hepatitis C treatment as out-of-pocket costs are unaffordable for most individuals. A literature review was conducted to investigate strategies to reduce the high cost of hepatitis C treatment using PubMed database. The research question of “What are current or future strategies that could reduce the high cost of hepatitis C treatment in the US market to increase access?” focused this literature review’s purpose. Relevant studies were those published from 2013 to present that included strategies to decrease the cost of hepatitis C treatment. Articles were excluded if they included a genotype other than genotype 1, represented studies conducted in a country other than the United States, or a specific clustering of individuals in the title such as injection drug users, at-risk populations, and prison inmates. Thirty-one studies met the criteria for inclusion in this literature review. The results of this literature review indicated that 15 articles believe increased market competition (48.3%) decreases the cost of hepatitis C treatment. Modifications to the pharmaceutical industry was emphasized in 12 articles (38.7%) such as promoting competition, research of equivalent drugs, and partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies as a means of decreasing hepatitis C treatment costs. Eleven articles claimed that stakeholder involvement (35.5%) reduces hepatitis C treatment costs. Eight studies claimed that business/finance industry modifications (25.8%) lower hepatitis C treatment costs. These studies assist in developing strategies to reduce the high financial burden on people living with hepatitis C and furthering public health significance in reducing hepatitis C transmission.