Goals for a Hepatitis C-Free Washington
On September 28, 2018, Governor Jay Inslee unveiled a first-in-nation approach to eliminate the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Washington state by 2030. This approach focuses on HCV elimination through combined public health efforts and a new medication purchasing approach.
The component of Governor Inslee’s directive, targeted at treatment medications, will be led by the Health Care Authority (HCA) to procure medications purchased by state agencies (including the Department of Corrections and the Department of Labor & Industries) to get the best prices possible from manufacturers and make sure that curative treatment is more readily available to all. In April, the HCA announced a contract with AbbVie US LLC after a request for proposals was issued in January. According to this Health Care Authority news release, this company provided the best overall portfolio to assist in HCV elimination and offers a product that will treat about 97 percent of all patients with HCV.
Prior to 2016, Washington’s Medicaid program restricted expensive HCV antiviral treatment drugs to only those patients with the most severe liver scarring. A federal judge ordered the state’s HCA to provide access to the antiviral treatment drugs to any patient with hepatitis C, opening the door for thousands to receive treatment prior to experiencing the damaging and irreversible effects of infection with the virus.
The state currently pays for HCV treatment for more than 4,000 people each year who are covered by state-purchased health care.
SRHD Epidemiologist Mark Springer, and Health Officer Bob Lutz, MD, MPH serve on the DOH HCV Elimination Coordinating Committee.
Other strategies include bolstering efforts to ensure those living with HCV know their status and are connected to care, and those at risk have access to preventive services such as syringe services programs. Additional staff at SRHD will likely join these efforts.
For more information:
Washington Department of Health