Treatment for hepatitis C can be expensive, with newer medication ranging from free to over $42,000, depending on the drug, dosage, and your insurance coverage.

Recent advancements have improved the outlook for people with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Many drugs can help manage or cure the virus.

However, a downside to these successful drug development efforts is their hefty treatment cost. Read on to learn how much these medications cost, what makes them so expensive, and how your treatment for HCV can be more affordable.

Current hepatitis C medications cure over 90% of hepatitis C infections in those who take them, depending on the type of HCV infection and treatment exposure.

These new drugs are called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first of these medications for HCV treatment in 2011 and several more since.

Most of these individual drugs are effective for specific strains, or genotypes, of HCV. However, some newer combination medications, which contain two or more drugs, work for all genotypes.

DAAs may be used alone or, very often, in combination with other drugs. Most are available in pill form. Typically, these pills have far fewer side effects than previous treatment options.

Currently, there’s a short list of blockbuster HCV drugs. The FDA only recently approved these medications, so the companies that manufacture them have market exclusivity. That means only these companies can promote and sell the drugs. It also means there are currently no generic versions, which are typically much cheaper than brand-name drugs.

The FDA determines how long this period of exclusivity will last. During this time, the pharmaceutical companies have a lot of freedom in establishing prices. And those who developed the new HCV drugs have set the pricing bar high.

The price you pay for hepatitis C medications can vary based on your insurance coverage, location, and other factors. The estimates in this article are what we’ve found to the best of our ability.

The table below highlights the approximate cost of treatment for the combination DAAs currently available. Most of these drugs take at least 12 weeks to cure HCV, while the most recently approved drug, Mavyret, can take only 8 weeks.

The price can also vary depending on the specific dosage a doctor recommends and your insurance coverage.

For instance, your out-of-pocket cost of Mavyret can vary depending on your coverage, according to the manufacturer:

  • Medicaid: around $20 per month
  • Private insurance: $5 per month with Mavyret Savings Card, or more
  • Medicare Part D: $0 to $3,300 per month

If you don’t have insurance coverage, drug manufacturers may offer an assistance program that will provide medication at a lower cost if you meet certain criteria.

Generic nameBrand nameApproximate cost
elbasvir-grazoprevirZepatier$7,259 per month
glecaprevir-pibrentasvirMavyret$13,200 per month
ledipasvir-sofosbuvirHarvoni$42,000 per month
sofosbuvirSovaldi$28,000 per month
sofosbuvir-velpatasvirEpclusa$25,000 per month
sofosbuvir-velpatasvir-voxilaprevirVosevi$32,000 per month

Many people who need HCV medications get financial assistance from private insurance companies, insurance companies that administer state Medicaid and Medicare plans, and the Veterans Administration. These groups negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers and don’t pay full price for the medication.

While they help provide treatment for many, these groups have their own criteria for who receives treatment. These criteria may depend on:

  • the severity of liver disease
  • whether the person avoids alcohol and drug use
  • whether a doctor who specializes in liver diseases has prescribed the drug
  • the life expectancy of the person seeking treatment
  • whether a person can use less expensive treatments first
  • the presence of other diseases that contribute to liver damage

Most insurers require pre-authorization for HCV treatments, which can be extensive. Essentially, you must be sick enough to meet the criteria established by your insurer. As a result, only a percentage of people who could be receiving these medications are getting them. However, with the new DAAs, coverage seems to be expanding.

Payment restrictions

Depending on your insurance provider, some companies will only pay for treatment if you have liver cirrhosis or bridging fibrosis, which is a thickening and scarring of the liver.

If you’re concerned about paying for HCV medications, various people and organizations can help, including the following:

  • Your doctor: They can help you by ordering and documenting the tests you’ll need to qualify for your medications, especially if you’re working with a liver or infection specialist.
  • Most drug manufacturers: Patient assistance programs offer free or reduced-cost medications for people who meet their criteria.
  • Patient advocacy groups: These groups provide assistance with all aspects of HCV treatment. For instance, if your insurer denies treatment, you can appeal the decision with help from one of these groups. Your doctor can also help in this situation.

Drug companies and patient advocacy groups are a great place to start when looking for help paying for HCV medications. Here’s a list to get you started.

Manufacturers’ patient-assistance programs in the United States

  • Gilead Sciences, Inc. can help with paying for Harvoni, Epclusa, and Vosevi.
  • AbbVie Inc. can help with costs for Mavyret.
  • Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. can help with paying for Zepatier.

Patient advocacy resources

Several drug options can cure hepatitis C infection, though they may have a high cost. However, you can find many options to help pay for these medications.

The options listed in this article should help. But if you’re confused or have questions, be sure to talk with your doctor. They can point you in the right direction to help make sure you have access to these lifesaving treatments.