Sound health policy puts patients first. Antiviral regimens approved in 2014 revolutionised treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Most patients can now be cured. These new regimens, however, were priced at US$83 320–150 000 for a 3-month course. Public and private payers in the USA responded by limiting coverage to patients with advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis, keeping the drugs from being used to prevent those stages. These restrictions defy medical guidelines, lack scientific justification, and undermine public health efforts to stem transmission. Instead of reducing barriers to care, the system has erected new ones. As drug makers and payers battle over billions of dollars, the needs of patients have been cast aside. Physicians and governments have a duty to make sure health policy is driven by the needs of patients and public health. In this Personal View, I call upon these groups to lead the creation of a national consensus among all stakeholders that will allow the advances in therapeutics for HCV infection to be put to work to end the epidemic.
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