MD Magazine: UMass Medical School study says care access, medication adherence difficulties are barriers to treatment with new hepatitis C drugs

August 24, 2016

A UMass Medical School study finds people with hepatitis C may face barriers to treatment with new, expensive drugs that include access to care, difficulties with medication adherence and reluctance by physicians to treat them, according to an article in MD Magazine.

The study, Access to New Medications for Hepatitis C for Medicaid Members: A Retrospective Cohort Study, looked at barriers besides cost and insurance requirements to receiving sofosbuvir and simeprevir, drugs that treat hepatitis C.  Researchers analyzed prior authorization requests submitted to MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid program.

“For example, some potential patients may not have a regular source of care or may have difficulty adhering to treatment regimens because of medical or social conditions such as SUD (substance abuse disorder) or unstable housing,” the authors said in the study. “Physicians, too, may be reluctant to treat patients whom they perceive to be poor risks for achieving successful outcomes.”

The study revealed that requests for and use of these new, very effective treatments did not increase as quickly as expected, the article said. Nearly all requests for the drugs were approved.

The Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy published the study, led by Karen M. Clements, ScD, MPH, a senior project director in the Center for Health Policy and Research, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, in its June edition.

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