By GREGORY N. HEIRES
DC 37 members suffering with Hepatitis C are now eligible to participate in a pilot program designed to effectively treat the disease and reduce the exorbitant cost of current prescription medications.
The new treatment regimen, devised by NYC Health+Hospitals in collaboration with the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, is available to members and dependents under 65 who are covered by the union’s prescription drug benefit, which is administered by OptumRx.
The NYC Health+Hospitals program, which typically lasts between 8-to-24 weeks, is designed to encourage patients to stick with its regimen of medication and other parts of the treatment. Participants are assigned Patient Navigators to guide them through the process. To date, 15 members have signed up for the program.
The latest Hepatitis C drugs have a 90% percent cure rate of the illness, but are outrageously expensive – for example, a three-month course of treatment by one drug, Harvoni, costs $49,650.
The current treatment locations are at Gouverneur Healthcare Services, Kings County Ambulatory Care Center, Jacobi Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital.
Anyone interested in learning about the program should email HepCDC37Program@nychhc.org or call the program’s clinical lead, Dr. Justin List, at 917-828-7427.
As many as 3.9 million people in the United States suffer from Hepatitis C, though an estimated three-quarters do not even know they have the virus. Symptoms include feeling tired; muscle and joint pain; itchy skin; jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes); dark, yellow urine; a loss of appetite; nausea and vomiting, and light-colored bowel movements. Hepatitis C spreads from person to person through contact with infected blood.