News Local/State

Illinois Prisons To Use Costly Drug For Hepatitis C


Illinois prison officials will be using an effective, but costly, new drug to treat inmates with hepatitis C. But they aren't sure of the total cost. 

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reports Friday that the Department of Corrections has approved using Sovaldi. Studies show it has a cure rate of 95 percent. 

But a single treatment can cost $61,000. Corrections officials estimate there are as many as 150 inmates in each of 25 prisons who have the life-threatening blood-borne infection linked to tainted needles. 

Illinois screens inmates for the disease when they are admitted unless they refuse. 

John Maki of the prison watchdog group, the John Howard Association, says undiagnosed inmates can spread the disease and the state is obligated to provide treatment.