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November 20, 2018

Alternative State-Level Financing for Hepatitis C Treatment—The “Netflix Model”

Author Affiliations
  • 1Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  • 2US Senate
  • 3Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Baton Rouge
  • 4Health Outcomes Research Group, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
JAMA. 2018;320(19):1977-1978. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.15782

Drug prices in the United States remain the highest in the world.1 New payment approaches are needed, a point illustrated by the new treatments for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection that are highly effective but also very expensive, at least from the view of many payers, physicians, and patients. Five years after the introduction of these drugs, and due in many cases to budgetary constraints of state Medicaid programs and prisons, only 15% of the estimated population of more than 3 million individuals with HCV infection in the United States have been treated.2 Yet the optimal way to treat HCV is at the population level, that is, by treating every patient possible, with as much speed as is possible. Doing so would reduce the health consequences for those infected, generate the most future savings from improved health, and help decrease future transmission of HCV from person to person.