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IU Physician Discusses Results Of Solvadi For Hepatitis C

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“Our top story this week is a new class of drugs that is curing a chronic disorder, and the high price tag that is giving health care administrators heart burn. The drug is Solvadi. It’s used to treat Hepatitis C, the blood-borne virus that was just discovered in 1986. It was often spread through risky sex and drug use. And after lying dormant for years, it is now showing up in aging baby boomers,” says host Barbara Lewis.

“As we look through medicine, there are very few diseases, that I think you can say with such precision that you really are cured.”

Lewis: That’s Dr. Paul Kwo. He’s a professor at the IU School of Medicine, and he’s a specialist at treating hepatitis. What makes Solvadi different is that it's part of a new class of drugs that is both more effective and much better tolerated than older drugs such as interferon. And that means more people are candidates to take it. Dr. Kwo told me it's having remarkable results. 

Kwo: Across the board you're going to see efficacy rates above 95%... 

Lewis: A 12-week treatment of Solvadi cost $84,000. But it's not really the price tag per person that's making Solvadi the topic of congressional hearings. Rather, it's the overall cost of treating Hepatitis C that's going to be astronomical as more baby boomers are diagnosed and treated. Here's the point: older therapies were expensive, too, but not as many people took them and fewer were actually cured. So without a doubt, the Hep C price tag is high. The difference is now: the cure rate is, too.