California prisoners filed a federal court class action lawsuit in Sacramento to receive a curative treatment for hepatitis C, after doctors refused patients treatment citing that they were not sick enough, the disease is too far advanced, or that the drugs cost too much, reported the Sacramento Bee.
California’s prison health care staff refused to provide 18 incarcerated hepatitis C patients with a new and expensive curable drug. Attorneys Mark E. Merin and Fred J. Hiestand filed the lawsuit in Sacramento on behalf of the infected inmates.
“When prisoners with Hep C are released, their viral infections can easily be spread to others”
“Hep C spreads through the society by contact with infected blood. When prisoners with Hep C are released, their viral infections can easily be spread to others,” said attorneys in a news release.
Nationally, some 64,000 Americans died from overdose last year, up 86 percent from 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Friends of Overdose Victims Become Prosecutor’s Targets” Dec. 18, 2017
The disease causes inflammation of the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and other health problem. The new drug treatment cost up to $40,000 per inmate, said the article. Merin believes California Department of Rehabilitation (CDCR) could negotiate a lower fee just based on the volume of inmates with hepatitis C.
Patients with a life expectancy of less than 12 months whose condition would not be improved by the treatment and patients who would be released from prison before completing their treatment are not eligible candidates for treatment, reported the article. Pregnant women and patients in reception centers are also entitled to the treatment.
“Drug overdoses have now surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 55.” THE NEW YORK TIMES Dec. 22, 2017
As of Jan. 12, there have been 18,389 inmates diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the CDCR, reported the article.
Among those named as defendants in the lawsuit is receiver J. Clark Kelso. In 2006 the federal court appointed a receiver to manage the delivery of medical care in California’s prisons, after it ruled CDCR failed to provide proper medical care to its inmates, reported the Bee.
There were 19,000 fatalities in the United States last year from hepatitis C, said the attorneys of the inmates.
According to a spokeswoman for the California Correctional Health Care Services, the hepatitis C treatment for inmates is based on guidelines provided by the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease.