A federal judge in Pennsylvania has admonished the state for restricting inmates’ access to drugs and particularly those for hepatitis C. The antivirals are sold by Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD). But despite the fact that hepatitis C is an epidemic in prisons, Pennsylvania’s corrections department has failed to provide the antiviral drugs to infected inmates, citing that it is expensive.
However, Judge Robert Mariani has ordered that the likes of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death-row inmate, should see a doctor who will determine whether or not he should get the drugs.
Hepatitis C is transmitted via infected blood and persistent infection can cause serious liver damage if left untreated. But even with this understanding, public and private health insurers have also limited use of the drugs, which cost about $54,000 to $94,500 per patient. They are known for less severe side effects compared to the older treatments.
But Will The Ruling Create Any Breakthrough
The ruling is currently applicable only to Mr. Abu-Jamal who has been sentenced to death before a federal court overturned the sentence.
In his order to prison officials to allow Abu-Jamal to seek treatment, the judge wrote, “he has a serious medical condition. He will continue to suffer from chronic hepatitis C if he doesn’t receive treatment. His liver will continue to scar and its functioning will continue to deteriorate.”
However, while this may not create a real breakthrough for every inmate, the judge has criticized the corrections department’s treatment policy, citing a “fatal flaw” of unreasonable conditions. But a Department of Corrections spokeswoman, Susan McNaughton has responded to the criticisms outlining that they are reviewing the decision.
Other Pennsylvania Inmates Have Filed A Separate Lawsuit Against The State
Apparently, Mr. Abu-Jamal, who filed a lawsuit against corrections officials last year, is not the only complainant. Other inmates are also pointing fingers at the state having filed a separate lawsuit seeking treatment for all infected prisoners. Bret Grote, legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center who was representing Mr. Abu-Jamal says that the ruling was an important victory and it is likely to establish a platform for addressing hepatitis C cases.
Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD)’s stock closed at $76.38 on Wednesday, witnessing an increase of $2.22 or 2.99%
Note: This article is written by Adam Russell and was originally published at Market Exclusive.