As science and technology progress, people are becoming more educated on how to live their lives better and longer. Scientists are uncovering cures to diseases at an outstanding rate. This sounds to be a win-win situation, until other factors come into play. The challenge is in the manufacturing and distribution of these miracle drugs. The argument at hand is that while we embrace huge scientific advances, the average person is not able to handle the costs associated with the demands of such miracle medications. A perfect example is the virtually flawless medication, Sovaldi, which fights the Hepatitis C virus with a 90-100% cure rate.
Hepatitis C is a virus that spreads infection and attacks the liver. In the United States alone, over 3.2 million people have hepatitis C, whether diagnosed or not. Because the virus has very few symptoms, most of those affected do not even know they have the disease. While there are many different types of Hepatitis C, the most common is type 1. Hepatitis C disease can be transmitted by contact with infected blood, and sometimes through sexual activity. Hepatitis C treatment has always been dangerous due to side effects and often not effective. The advent of Sovaldi has changed that.
How does Sovaldi work? The hepatitis C virus must attach to and infect liver cells in order to carry out its life cycle and reproduce which is the reason why it can cause liver disease over time. Sovaldi works by blocking an enzyme that the virus uses to replicate its RNA (nucleotides used to carry genetic information), interrupting a vital stage in the virus' life cycle. If the Hepatitis C virions are unable to replicate, the virus eventually dies.
The Sovaldi treatment can cost more than $90,000 and insurance companies and state Medicaid programs are unhappy with the price. But the truth is that if Sovaldi didn't exist, insurers would still be paying in the mid-to-high five figures to treat the most common kind of hepatitis C. Doctors argue that though the medication price seems outrageous, the extra costs associated with complications that arise from other forms of treatment (ie: blood transfusions, weekly doctor visits, liver transplants etc) can far exceed and are not nearly as successful.
Undoubtedly, due to the high demand for Sovaldi coupled with its effectiveness, the drug will continue to cause a real stir. And regardless of the cost, those diagnosed with Hepatitis C will do whatever they can to undergo a Sovaldi treatment. Despite the current struggle between manufacturers and the healthcare system, the introduction of Sovaldi to the drug market is paving the way for other potential life-changing drugs for the future.
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