The mission of AfPA’s Hepatitis Therapy Access Physicians Working Group is to ensure the perspectives of hepatologists, gastroenterologists, infectious diseases specialists and other clinicians treating patients suffering from hepatitis, are shared with policymakers considering issues impacting access to hepatitis therapies. Working Group members collaborate in the development of educational resources and participate in advocacy initiatives designed to promote informed policymaking.

Hepatitis C affects more than 3 million Americans. The disease, chronic for many patients, can develop into cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer. Until recently, treatment was largely limited to interferon shots for a period of 24-48 weeks, which offered only a 50 percent success rate and dampened patients’ quality of life by introducing side effects such as fatigue and depression.

Now the introduction of a new class of medical therapies stands to revolutionize care for hepatitis C patients. Unlike treatments of the past, these new therapies cure patients with a 90 percent success rate within a matter of weeks. These therapies also drastically reduce side effects.

But treatment costs, amplified by a vast patient population, pose significant challenges for Medicare and Medicaid programs as well as private health plans. Yet long-term cost evaluation suggests that the upfront costs of a cure may be less expensive than treating chronic liver complications throughout a patient’s lifetime.

Nevertheless, efforts to evaluate and contain costs are triggering patient access challenges. At both the federal and state level, government healthcare programs are limiting coverage and payment. Balanced dialogue on this new generation of hepatitis C cures, requires the voices of a broad range of stakeholders, including physicians, to consider questions of long-term impact, short-term costs and the value of curing the illness.


Frederick L. Altice, M.D. serves as Chairman of AfPA’s Hepatitis Therapy Access Physicians Working Group. A passionate clinician, researcher and advocate for informed public policies that support optimal treatments for patients living with HCV to reduce health disparities, Dr. Altice is a Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Yale University where he is the Director of Clinical and Community Research and is board-certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases and addiction medicine.

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For more information about this physicians’ working group, click here.

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