Re: Increasing Government Research Funding for Treatment of HCV and Other Liver Diseases
As my representative you ought to know hepatitis C is being called a "silent epidemic" by former surgeon general Everett Koop, MD.
It is estimated that as many as 4 to 5 million Americans are infected. The death rate due to complications from this disease is expected to quadruple in the next 10 years.
I am writing to you because more government research funding is needed.
A study presented at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases meeting on Tuesday November 9, 1999 concluded that long-term damage from hepatitis C infections may cost the U.S. economy more than $81 billion by 2019.
The study, by researchers from the New England Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine, looked at what costs can be expected in the ten years from 2010 to 2019 as a result of the long-term effects of hepatitis C infections.
The study used a computer model to estimate the level of disease and death expected in the period 2010-2019 from existing and future infections. It found that the medical costs of treating such liver damage as cirrhosis and cancer would total at least $10.3 billion in those ten years.
Most people infected by the virus do not notice any symptoms until serious liver damage starts 20 years or so later, although testing can detect the infection and lead to early treatment.
Productivity lost to the work force from hepatitis C complications and death would equal another $71.5 billion, the researchers, led by Dr John Wong, said.
"Our results suggest that hepatitis C will be an awakening health issue that should be addressed now," Wong said in his paper.
There is no known cure and current treatment has an inadequate success rate (while often causing debilitating side effects). And, yet, government funding for research falls far behind that of other, less widespread diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
I am requesting that you investigate this important area of public health and sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to allocate more funds to Hepatitis C treatment research.
Thank you for your attention and consideration in regard to this serious issue.
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