Kentucky prisons can ration hepatitis C treatment, appeals court rules
The Kentucky Department of Corrections can deny a life-saving but costly hepatitis C medication to inmates, a federal appeals court recently ruled, according to the AP.
Why it matters: Hepatitis C is the leading cause of serious liver disease and Kentucky has the highest infection rate in the United States, per AP.
- New treatments can cure 100% of patients but cost $13,000 to $32,000.
- Due to the cost of the treatment, the Kentucky Department of Corrections has restricted use of the treatment to inmates with advanced liver scarring.
Driving the news: In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that denying treatment to most of Kentucky's 1,200 inmates with hepatitis C does not violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
- The dissenting judge said the majority opinion "consigns thousands of prisoners with symptomatic, chronic HCV to years of additional suffering and irreversible liver scarring," the Louisville Courier Journal reports.
- The majority decision upholds an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, who "found the department’s monitoring of inmates with hepatitis C constituted treatment, and the department’s treatment plan was adequate," according to AP.