The True Meaning of a Cure | Page 3

New hepatitis C drugs moved the dream of a cure into a reality that gives patients a new chance at life.
Franciscus said that the initial sticker shock from the cost of treatment has fueled much of the debate, as he noted the cost for the 70-week treatment that cured him was approximately the same cost as a 12-week Sovaldi regimen. He added that the unfortunate by-product of the cost is difficulty getting it into the hands of patients in need. Franciscus questions the logic of restricting access to a drug that has the potential to cure HCV.

“When you think about it, what other public health disease is treatable and curable, but we’re restricting access to it? It doesn’t make sense to me,” he said. “When you have a disease where you can develop fibrosis so quickly, why wouldn’t you want to treat it?”

A New Day

In the wake of highly effective HCV treatments hitting the market, Franciscus said what once appeared to be an unobtainable dream is now a realistic hope for many patients whose future once appeared bleak.

“I never thought there would be a cure, but to hear there would be a cure after 12 weeks with minimal side effects—I never thought there would be a day like this,” he said. “It’s pretty incredible.”

In light of a study published in August 2014 in the Annals of Internal Medicine that predicted HCV could become a rare disease by the year 2036, it appears that millions of HCV patients may be able to live without the specter of a debilitating disease within just a few decades. Freed from concerns over a life of suffering in their future, many patients can now ponder a new life driven by what it truly means to be cured of HCV.

“A cure gives you hope that you can go on with your life. Hepatitis C is so highly stigmatized. People live with that, so many feel so stigmatized. They feel like they deserve that they got hepatitis C virus,” Franciscus said. “So being able to get rid of it, they’re able to move on and maybe start a family or enter a new profession, and just sort of let go of that prior history. There [are] a lot of people with hepatitis C who are in recovery [for drug and alcohol addiction], and they talk about getting rid of the disease as the final step in their recovery. A cure takes all of that weight off of you.”

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