Despite vocal outrage by medical professionals and even successful class-action lawsuits against insurers, most hepatitis C sufferers aren't getting the DAA cure. Private insurers flat out deny over half of DAA prescriptions, with patients on Medicare and Medicaid faring somewhat better. Worse, the number of denials seems to be rising. The insurers' reasoning for denial is simple: With a cure that costs up to $100,000, it's just too expensive to give to everyone. So they tend to only grant it to those on the brink of death. So somehow, most people with hepatitis C aren't eligible for the cure for hepatitis C. That sounds less like a real-life situation than a quote from a Catch-22 sequel called You Catch It, You Keep It.
But why does Big Pharma make such an important cure so expensive in the first place? Depressingly, it all comes down to basic supply and demand. Don't take our word for it, but that of a Goldman Sachs analyst. In a report titled "The Genome Revolution," she posited that it's just bad business to actually cure people of what ails them, and she even used the DAA treatment for hepatitis C as a model. When the cure first came out, Big Pharma was able to sell $12.5 billion worth of it. But then the pesky thing started reducing their customer base (i.e. healing them), and now their profits have gone down to a paltry $4 billion. If that downward trend holds, soon they'll actually run out of hepatitis C to cure! If you can't turn saving lives into a sustainable business model, why even bother?