New York City operates one of only two jail systems that initiates treatment for patients during incarceration. Last April, the City announced that over the next five years, NYC will provide and expand offering drugs that cure hepatitis C with $2.5 million in funding in FY 2017 and will ramp up to $5 million in the following years.
Hepatitis C is a lifelong disease that can cause permanent damage to the liver but it can be cured if the disease is diagnosed and appropriately treated. It is reported that approximately 2.4 percent of New Yorkers 20 and older live with hepatitis C.
The highest rates are among the incarcerated population. Merck has a number of studies underway to understand the full potential of their company’s development of Zepatier a medication to cure to treat and cure hepatitis C.
Dr. Ram Raju, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals www.nychealthandhospitals.org recently announced that funding in the NYC Budget is enabling a partnership with Merck & Co., www.merck.com and the City. The funding will help triple incarcerated patients to receive the medication Zepatier at a discounted price.
The combination of new funding in the City’s budget brings the program’s budget to $4.4 million and the discounted drug price will enable the City to treat and cure over 100 patients in FY 2017 undergoing treatment with Zepatier.
Patients who enter the jail system and taking medication for hepatitis C will continue to receive treatment while initiating treatment is determined based on clinical criteria and the likelihood that the treatment course can be completed in the jail system.
“We are proud to be able to expand life-saving hepatitis C treatment to some of the most vulnerable patients in the City and to ensure that people moving in and out of the corrections system can receive a full course of treatment and services,” said Dr. Raju.
“The cost of not treating this disease is devastating in both human and financial terms,” reports Dr. Patsy Yang, Senior Vice President NYC Health+ Hospitals for Correctional Health Services. “As one of the largest providers of correctional health services in the nation, we have the opportunity and moral obligation to treat and cure individuals in our care who have this serious transmissible disease.