Study shows hepatitis C treatment can be shortened

Burman’s Specialty Pharmacy recently announced study findings that showed more than 25 percent of hepatitis C patients may be treated with an eight-week therapy — four weeks shorter than drug manufacturers first believed.

The findings reveal potential for great cost savings in a health care system where hepatitis C treatments have presented problems for payer organizations.

"We worked with physicians on prescribing the shortened therapy for 284, or 74 percent, of those patients," Paul Urick, president of Managed Markets and Industry Relations, said. "An eight-week treatment cycle's wholesale acquisition costs average $63,000, a savings of $31,500 vs. a 12-week treatment cycle. This is a great opportunity to make a difference to patients, and it's great for payers as well."

According to the study, among 1,093 genotype 1a and 1b patients who have completed treatment over the last six months, 35 percent had a clinical profile that qualified them for eight weeks, instead of 12 weeks, of Harvoni therapy.

For Burman's qualifying patients, a 12-week regimen of Harvoni would cost $26.9 million vs, an eight-week regimen that totaled $17.9 million.

"We know that not all physicians will be willing to prescribe eight weeks of treatment at all times," Urick said. "Especially since each patient may have extenuating circumstances beyond prior treatment status and cirrhotic status, among other factors. It's at physicians' discretion as to how long they want to treat patients. Still, nearly 75 percent of patients who qualified did achieve a cure with eight weeks of treatment for their hepatitis C disease."