Colorado DOC to Spend $41 Million to Treat People with Hepatitis C
Date:  09-17-2018

Critics accused DOC of dragging its feet to treat people because of high cost of drugs that can wipe out hep C virus
From Westword:

The Colorado Department of Corrections will spend $41 million over two years to provide life-saving drugs to 2,200 prisoners who've been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C. The move was approved today, September 12, by the Colorado State Claims board, settling a class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Colorado and Fox Rothschild attorneys, which accused the state of delaying or denying treatment for prisoners battling the potentially deadly virus because of the high cost of the medications involved.

The state is spending $20.5 million in this year's budget, and the same amount next year, to address a backlog of prisoners who've been waiting in line for a new generation of wonder drugs, known as direct-acting antivirals, that virtually eliminate the virus in more than 90 percent of the patients treated. That's an exponential increase over the $2.8 million the CDOC spent to treat just fifty prisoners for hep C in the previous two years.

As first reported in our 2016 feature "
The Deadliest Killer in Colorado's Prisons is a Curable Virus, " prison administrators had set up stringent requirements for treatment that amounted to a multi-year obstacle course for inmates suffering from the virus. Partly because of the stigma associated with the bloodborne virus, which is primarily acquired through sharing needles, and partly because of its pervasiveness behind bars (it's estimated that 17 percent of the national prison population is affected), officials required prisoners to go through months of drug and alcohol classes and have particularly deteriorated livers before they could begin treatment. The severe rationing was also spurred by the fact that the new wonder drugs, when they first debuted, cost as much as $95,000 for a twelve-week regimen. Continue reading >>>