Tennessee must mediate with prisoners over hepatitis C drugs

Tennessee must mediate with prisoners over hepatitis C drugs
A federal judge has ordered the state of Tennessee to mediate with a group of prisoners who are demanding treatment for their hepatitis C infections (Source: Pixabay)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the state of Tennessee to mediate with a group of prisoners who are demanding treatment for their hepatitis C infections.

The order came after a four-day trial in Nashville. It included emotional testimony from a mother whose son died of complications from hepatitis C while in state custody.

At issue is treatment with antiviral drugs that promise to cure most patients within weeks. Because the drugs are very expensive, the Tennessee Department of Correction has said it will only provide them to the most seriously ill prisoners.

Many other states have faced similar decisions both in prisons and within the Medicaid system. They contend the drugs are unnecessary for healthier patients.

Chief U.S. District Judge Waverley Crenshaw ordered mediation at the trial’s conclusion on Friday.