What We're Reading: Treating Earlier With Pricey HCV Drugs

What we're reading, November 24, 2015: expensive hepatitis C drugs are more cost effective when used earlier; clinicians aren't prescribing generics enough; and half of health 45-year-olds will develop prediabetes.

Using Hepatitis C Drugs Earlier May Be More Cost Effective

A study from the University of California, San Francisco, found that giving patients costly new hepatitis C drugs earlier to cure their disease may be more cost effective than delaying treatment. The drugs can cost up to $100,000 for a full course of treatment, but the savings and the improvement in the patients’ quality of life could justify using the drugs during the early stages of liver fibrosis. Usually patients are treated when they reach stages 3 or 4 of liver fibrosis, but the researchers estimated that treating at all stages could yield savings of $3.3 billion.

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Clinicians Don’t Prescribe Generics Enough

Generic medications are being underused in the United States and could be prescribed more by clinicians, according to the American College of Physicians. A paper published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that in Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, the use of brand name drugs that had generics available accounted for 25% to 45% of prescriptions, depending on the class. Medicare could save $1.4 billion for patients with diabetes, according to the study.

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Half of Healthy Adults Will Develop Prediabetes

A study from The Netherlands determined that almost half of healthy 45-year-olds will develop prediabetes, Reuters reported. Slightly less than one-third (31%) will develop diabetes, and 9% will begin to use insulin. The risks increased as body mass index or waist circumference increased. The researchers wrote in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology that their findings emphasize the need for more effective prevention strategies implemented earlier in a person’s life.

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