Trending News Today: Cost of Hepatitis C Drugs Still Under Scrutiny

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The score of a common blood test may one day be able to predict a patient’s risk of developing a chronic disease within 3 years of taking the test, according to NPR. The Intermountain Chronic Disease Risk Score is based on the results of a comprehensive metabolic panel that includes tests for blood glucose, liver function, and a complete blood count. The risk score was 77% to 78% accurate in predicting whether an individual would be diagnosed with diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, coronary artery disease, and dementia. The test used in the score is commonly performed at checkups, and the score can be calculated by a hospital’s electronic health record. The study’s principal investigator, Heidi May, hopes the score could eventually help physicians better allocate their time and resources, NPR reported.

Since blockbuster hepatitis C virus (HCV) drugs have come onto the market, manufacturers have received criticism over the high price tags. Meanwhile, health insurers and state Medicaid programs have been coming up with ways to limit access to these lifesaving drugs, according to NPR. Dr Peter Bach, director of health policy and outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, proposes a solution to address the issue: buying up the company, specifically Gilead Sciences. Dr Bach said if the federal government bought Gilead, it could save money and treat everyone in the United States with HCV. Since the launch of Sovaldi and Harvoni, approximately 600,000 patients have been treated, a figure that is low considering the availability of a cure, NPR reported.

Researchers and advocates are speaking out against President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget, saying it would be a devastating blow to cancer research. According to The Washington Post, critics say the 19% cut for the National Institutes of Health could cripple or kill former Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer moonshot initiative, as well as other important biomedical efforts. “Forget about the moonshot. What about everything on the ground?” George Demetri, an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, told the Post. “Fundamentally, this is so extreme that all I can think is that it’s pushing 2 orders of magnitude off the grid so that when people come back to less extreme positions it looks normal.”