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Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated Message Board

  • swhitemd50 swhitemd50 Jul 4, 2011 11:04 AM Flag

    Potential explosion in hep C patients

    The number of patients diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C in the U.S. could quadruple if all who are chronically infected are identified. According to widely quoted figures, there are 170 million chronically infected with hep C worldwide and 3.2 to 4 million of those are in the United States. 2.4 million (75% of those 3.2 million) are unaware of their chronic hep C infection. About two thirds of those (1.6 million) chronically infected with hep C and unaware of their condition are "baby boomers." According to the 6/28/11 Boston Globe article "Another push to educate the public about hepatitis C is being readied by the CDC, which is writing new guidelines that will recommend one-time screenings of people born between 1946 and 1964. Currently, people are tested for hepatitis C only if they are considered high risk." If all 79 million "baby boomers" get screened, this could translate into 1.6 million more patients getting treated. Of course, not all will get screened but my guess is a significant percentage of this group will be screened.

    As for the cost of the new hep C protease inhibitors, they may, in fact, be a bargain. According to a 6/22/11 press release from Vertex, the 2009 annual medical costs in the U.S. to treat those with hepatitis C were $30 billion and this is expected to increase to $85 billion by 2029. Also noted in the same press release: Hepatitis C is reported to contribute to 4,600 to 12,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. So it seems to me that several billion dollars per year spent on curing these people is a reasonable price to pay.

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