Illinois prison officials use an effective, but expensive, new drug to treat inmates suffering from hepatitis C, but aren't sure of the effort's total cost.
The Department of Corrections approved use of the drug Sovaldi, which studies show has a 95 percent cure rate. However, a single treatment of the drug can run $61,000. Officials estimate as many as 150 inmates in each of the state's 25 prisons has the life-threatening infection, which is linked to tainted needles.
The state screens inmates for the blood-borne disease upon admission, unless the inmates refuse.
John Maki, with prison watchdog group the John Howard Association, says inmates who go undiagnosed can spread hepatitis C and the state is obligated to give treatment.
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