Hepatitis C Treatment Estimates

Dear Colleague,

November 12, 2021

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on the first estimates of hepatitis C treatment, from 2014-2020, using data from a national prescription claims database, IMS Health & Quintilesexternal icon (IQVIA). The treatment estimates were presented at this year’s virtual American Association of the Study of Liver Disease (AASLDexternal icon) meeting as a poster (#926) titled “Hepatitis C treatment in the United States, 2014–2020” by Eyasu Teshale, MD, Division of Viral Hepatitis, CDC. The poster reported on the estimated number of people initiating hepatitis C treatment from 2014 to 2020 and summarized the characteristics of persons infected with hepatitis C who were treated in the United States with direct-acting antiviral agents (DAA) during that same time period.

The study found that over the six years of the study, approximately 843,000 people with hepatitis C in the United States initiated treatment with DAAs, an average of 120,000 people treated each year. The number of people treated was highest in 2015 with 164,247 people treated, and then declined to its lowest level in 2020 with 83,740 people treated; likely due to COVID-19-related disruptions to hepatitis C testing and treatment, and continued restrictions on coverage of HCV treatment by some insurers.

Additional select findings from the study include:

  • Of persons with hepatitis C who received treatment from 2014-2020, almost 60% were male and around 65% were born from 1945 to 1965 (aka, baby boomer generation).
  • From 2014-2020, the proportion of claims paid for by Medicaid increased from 9.6% to 28.8%, while claims paid by Medicare decreased from 30.3% to 25.3%. Further, 60% of prescribers of the medication claims from 2014-2020 were from specialists.
  • From 2014-2020, the annual proportion of people born from 1945 to 1965 treated for hepatitis C decreased from 73.6% to 46.3%, and persons born after 1965 increased from 17.4% to 51.3%.

Because hepatitis C treatment can cure more than 90% of hepatitis C cases, reaching more people with hepatitis C testing and treatment is critical to saving lives and preventing transmission of this deadly, but curable, infection. Yet, approximately 40% of adults living with hepatitis C are unaware of their infection, and barriers remain that make it hard for everyone to equitably access treatment. For example, the cost of hepatitis C treatment remains unaffordable for many, and many states have not eliminated their fibrosis stage and drug and alcohol abstinence requirement for treatment, and there are other barriers that should be removed to improve access to treatment, such as prescriber and prior authorization requirements.

There is still a lot of work ahead of us to improve testing and reduce barriers to treatment. By working together, we can identify and address the challenges and close the hepatitis C testing and treatment gaps. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to viral hepatitis. We look forward to working with all of you as we continue efforts to ensure equity in the testing and treatment of hepatitis C.

We invite you to visit CDC’s viral hepatitis media newsroom for more information  and resources on the poster presentation, Hepatitis C treatment in the United States, 2014–2020external icon.

Thank you,

/Carolyn Wester/

Carolyn Wester, MD
Director
Division of Viral Hepatitis
National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/

 

/Jonathan Mermin/

Jonathan H. Mermin, MD, MPH
Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
Director
National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/nchhstp

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Page last reviewed: November 10, 2021