by Judy Packer-Tursman

Louisiana is off to a fast start on its new payment model aimed at getting costly but curative hepatitis C treatment to patients in Medicaid or incarcerated in state correctional facilities — via a “Netflix”-like, modified subscription service. More Louisiana residents received such treatment in the first 75 days of the new pact than in the entire fiscal year 2019, state officials said Dec. 5, and 2,290 people got treated between the program’s July 15 launch and Nov. 26.

It’s all part of a five-year agreement worked out by the Louisiana Dept. of Health with Asegua Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Gilead Sciences, Inc., for an unrestricted amount of Asegua’s direct-acting antiviral medication, the authorized generic of Epclusa (sofosbuvir/velpatasvir), to treat patients in the designated populations.

“The payment model allows a payer — in this case, a state payer — to better manage its costs while maximizing the number of patients who can receive treatment. This is an underlying goal of managed care pharmacy practice,” Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy CEO Susan A. Cantrell, R.Ph., said in a statement to AIS Health.

Louisiana state health officials say they’re encouraged by the new program’s early treatment numbers, but this is a first step: the overarching goal is to eliminate hepatitis C statewide in Louisiana by 2024 among all residents.

To bolster its efforts toward statewide eradication of hepatitis C, the department launched a public awareness campaign the first week of December. Then on Dec. 10, agency officials announced a new collaboration with Walmart Inc., launching a pilot program of free hepatitis screenings in 10 Walmart stores until Feb. 1, 2020.