Eliminating hepatitis C
The Health Care Authority (HCA) is partnering with the Department of Health (DOH) to work towards eliminating hepatitis C in Washington State.
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common blood borne disease in the United States. Between 75 and 85 percent of people infected with HCV develop chronic HCV.
Chronic HCV is a lifelong virus that can cause severe scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver, liver cancer, the need for a liver transplant, and even death. The death toll from HCV continues to rise, tied to the opioid epidemic and the rise in drug injection.
About 65,000 Washingtonians live with chronic HCV. Approximately 30,000 are covered by state-purchased health care insurance, including:
- Washington Apple Health (Medicaid)
- The Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program
- The Department of Corrections (DOC)
- The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I)
Yes. In the past few years, medications have become available that cure HCV.
Numerous national organizations have noted that HCV can be eliminated in the United States in the future. Elimination is a state where HCV is no longer a public health threat, and where those few who become infected quickly learn their status and receive curative treatment, preventing the forward spread of the virus.
HCA, in partnership with other state agencies — and at the direction of Gov. Jay Inslee — is working to significantly reduce the infected population over the next four years.
HCA has signed a contract with AbbVie US LLC, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, in an effort to eliminate HCV in Washington State by 2030.
AbbVie was chosen because they provided the best overall portfolio to assist Washington with eliminating HCV. They offer a product that will treat about 97 percent of all patients with HCV and they have demonstrated a commitment to partner with HCA to eliminate HCV through its investment in the HepC Free Washington initiative.
As part of this work, we are coordinating efforts to find individuals who are not yet treated; educate the health care workforce about screening and providing curative HCV treatment; and address barriers to care such as stigma, lack of urgency to treat among patients and providers, and access to HCV providers.
Action! This is a huge opportunity to rid our state of the most common blood borne disease in the United States – and now it is possible! Effective immediately, we would like all providers licensed to treat HCV to screen and treat the target population. In order to support our provider community in this monumental effort, HCA has made important policy changes:
- The antiviral Mavyret™ will no longer require prior authorization (PA). Other direct-acting antivirals will require review and will be approved only when Mavyret™ is not clinically appropriate.
- Anyone licensed to prescribe the antiviral treatments is allowed to screen and treat Apple Health members to support this effort.
In order to achieve HCV elimination in Washington State, the Department of Health (DOH) convened partners and stakeholders to develop an elimination strategy. These included:
- People affected by HCV
- Local health jurisdictions
- Tribal Nations
- Medical providers
- Others with an interest in HCV elimination