To Save Money, Nevada Is Denying Its Prisoners Treatment For Hepatitis C


Nevada prison officials are delaying hepatitis C treatment to prisoners citing the high cost of the drugs.

Nevada inmates are filing lawsuits against the state Department of Corrections for their denial of hepatitis C medications, costly but effective drugs known to cure 90 percent of patients, according to NBC News

Nevada is one of at least a dozen states where prison officials have denied or limited access to the drugs, citing the high cost which can cost up to $30,000 for a round of treatment. 

“As the disease is allowed to attack my liver, over time, my liver will fail to work properly causing me serious bodily harm,” Elizabeth Carley, who is housed at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in Las Vegas, wrote to prison officials in an Oct. 21, 2016, grievance. “It is not medically accurate or proper treatment procedure to wait until hep C gets worse before treating it.”

Although Nevada prison officials recently revised their hepatitis C treatment policies to expand treatment, they give priority to those with more advanced stages of the illness, which prisoners argue will delay thousands of Nevada inmates from obtaining access to the life-saving treatment. 

However, the lawsuit claims that failure to provide the treatment amounts to “deliberate indifference” to prisoners’ serious medical needs and violates their constitutional rights as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“While they have appeared to remove the absolute exclusion of some patients, they still have not committed to providing everyone who needs the cure with the cure,” said Maggie McLetchie, whose firm is co-counsel with Hosmer-Henner in a class-action lawsuit. “Prioritizing treatment, by definition, means that they are going to be denying or delaying care to some people who need it.”

“Medical doctors are supposed to be following medical standards of care when they provide treatment,” McLetchie said, “and that doesn’t change because they are providing treatment at a prison.”

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