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Breakthrough Drug For Treating Hepatitis C Is Too Pricey For Patients

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Kathy Walsh By Kathy Walsh
CBS4 Health Specialist
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Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSDenver.com/ACA

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DENVER (CBS4) – A new medical breakthrough for patients with hepatitis C may be too expensive.

It is a drug called Sovaldi, and researchers say it has already cured about 90 percent of patients in just 12 weeks when used with older drugs.

Kim Bossley, a mother of two from Longmont, is hoping she will be cured. In 2005, she learned that she has hepatitis C.

Both Bossley and her mother were infected at Bossley’s birth through a blood transfusion. Bossley’s mom died from hepatitis C when it destroyed her liver.

“After I lost my mom in 2006 something clicked that I was not going to go down without a fight,” Bossley told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

In November, Bossley got a powerful weapon when she became part of a clinical trial taking two drugs, Ribavirin and Sovaldi.

Bossley got amazing results.

“They do not detect any hep C virus in my blood,” she said.

Sovaldi is providing hope for the more than 3 million Americans infected with hepatitis C. Bossley calls it a miracle cure.

Dr. Greg Everson is Bossley’s liver specialist at the University of Colorado Hospital.

“I think it’s an extraordinary time for patients with hep C — a lot of hope,” he said.

Everson calls Sovaldi the game changer.

“The drug seems to be effective across all types of hep C,” he said.

But Sovaldi isn’t for everyone. A 12 week supply is $84,000, which comes down to about $1,000 per pill.

Dr. Everson says some private insurers cover it, but Colorado’s Medicaid office has a moratorium. The department is evaluating individual cases.

When asked if some people could die because they can’t afford this pricey pill, Everson said that’s possible.

Bossley wants to help now and has started a foundation in her mother’s honor to raise money and awareness. Her mom missed out on a cure, but Bossley plans on saving thousands in her place.

The California-based maker of Sovaldi, Gilead Sciences, offers financial assistance to some patients in need.

In late March, three federal lawmakers, including Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, asked the company to justify the price of Sovaldi.

LINK: More On Kim And Her Foundation

LINK: More Information On Hepatitis C

LINK: Democratic Leaders Request Briefing by Gilead on Hepatitis C Drug Pricing

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