A wonder drug came on the market two years ago that cures hepatitis C, a potentially deadly liver disease afflicting millions of Americans, killing 15,000 a year.
The problem is, many patients could not afford it. A standard course of Sovaldi cost $84,000, or $1,000 a day. And many insurers would not approve it for any but the sickest of patients.
"Here we had this disease we couldn't cure, and this drug is developed and it's almost like a miracle," said Dr. Paul J. Thuluvath, a gastroenterologist and liver specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, who has treated hepatitis for 25 years. "I was so upset it was so expensive."
Thuluvath and others say barriers put up by private insurance companies and state Medicaid programs aimed at controlling costs have made it hard for patients to get the drug, with many left to worsen as they sought charity or appealed their cases.
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