Pennsylvania Prison System to Cut Number of Inmates Receiving Treatment for Hepatitis C
July 25, 2003
Pennsylvania prisons this fall will treat about 75% fewer inmates for hepatitis C than they currently treat but will provide more targeted care for hepatitis C patients who are most likely to benefit from treatment, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Currently, Pennsylvania has 8,300 inmates with the liver disease and is treating about 550 inmates, at a cost of about $16,000 per patient for a 48-week course of medicine, according to Fred Maue, chief of medical services for the state Department of Corrections. Last year, the department was "over ... budget" for hepatitis C treatment, spending about $8.8 million, Maue said, adding that the most the department could spend on hepatitis C treatment this year is $6 million, and treatment costs will drop even more next year. Under new guidelines, which go into effect in September, the state will apply stricter criteria for treatment, with about 130 inmates each year receiving treatment. That number may eventually be cut to less than 100 inmates, although the number of inmates with hepatitis C likely will remain constant, at about 23% of the state's prison population, according to Maue. He added that treatment would be limited to inmates with a highly treatable form of hepatitis C, which affects about 15% of people with the disease. In order to be considered for treatment, inmates will have to have at least 18 months remaining in their sentences, up from one year, and will have to undergo a liver biopsy.
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.