Governor John Bel Edwards joined Secretary Rebekah Gee of the Louisiana Department of Health, Secretary James LeBlancof the Louisiana Department of Corrections, and Asegua Therapeutics LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gilead Sciences, Inc., to announce a deal that will allow the implementation of an innovative payment model for hepatitis C treatment, part of Louisiana’s plan to eliminate the disease.
“This new model has the potential to save many lives and improve the health of our citizens. It is an important day for our state, for our partner Asegua Therapeutics, for providers, but most importantly for the patients and their families who will benefit from treatment,”
said Governor Edwards.
“Asegua was willing to come to the table to work with us to help Louisiana residents and we are pleased to initiate this five year partnership. Ultimately, our goal is to eliminate this disease in Louisiana, and we have taken a big step forward in that effort.”
In the United States, hepatitis C kills more people than all other infectious diseases combined. At least 39,000 people in Louisiana’sMedicaid program and prison system suffer from hepatitis C infection.
“An elimination plan and innovative payment model will ensure that we can cure this deadly disease and prevent long-term illness and disability in those who have it,”
said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health.
“The Department of Health’s goal is to treat at least 31,000 people by the end of 2024 and eventually eliminate this disease.”
After extensive research and work with policy experts across the nation, the Department of Health released a solicitation of offers in January of 2019 in search of a pharmaceutical company willing to partner with Louisiana on a subscription model. Asegua Therapeutics was announced as the selected partner in April, and through subsequent discussions the parties have agreed to a modified model.
“We are pleased that Asegua has the courage to be a pioneer and chart a new path forward that will allow us to save many lives and improve the health of our citizens,”
The innovative payment model for Louisiana addresses the needs of patients and joins the goals of both Louisiana and Asegua to extend a cure to those in need.
“This partnership will have a direct and immediate impact on the most vulnerable populations with hepatitis C – people who are on Medicaidor who receive care through the state corrections system. These populations are disproportionately affected by hepatitis C and often face the greatest difficulty in accessing care,”
said Gregg Alton, Chief Patient Officer at Gilead Sciences.
“We are committed to supporting efforts to eliminate hepatitis C in communities around the world and are excited to partner with the visionary leaders in Louisiana to make this public health opportunity a reality in this state.”
The innovative payment model allows the state to purchase an unlimited amount of Asegua’s direct-acting antiviral medication, the authorized generic of Epclusa® (sofosbuvir/velpatasvir) to treat patients within Louisiana’s Medicaid and Department of Corrections populations and caps the State’s medication costs.
“With this model to purchase hepatitis C medications, we can cure those within the state facilities who have this life-threatening illness and prevent the spread of the illness within our facilities,”
said James LeBlanc, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
“We will also work closely with the Department of Health to implement a plan to screen and treat the local level population either while incarcerated or upon release into supervision. Most importantly, we can make sure these men and women have an opportunity to be even more successful and healthy when they return to their communities.”
The Department of Health and Asegua completed and signed a formal contract for the purchase of Asegua’s hepatitis C medication, the authorized generic of Epclusa, over five years, and for people enrolled in the Medicaid program and incarcerated people in Louisiana. The Department of Health continues to implement an elimination plan that engages partners across the state to educate the public on the availability of a cure and reach out to high-risk populations for screenings; connect people living with hepatitis C to care; expand provider capacity; and establish partnership across the state to eliminate hepatitis C in Louisiana.