1Department of Health, Law, Policy & Management, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
3Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation and Research Center (CHEAR), Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
4Department of Markets, Public Policy & Law, Boston University Questrom School of Business, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Introduction: Little is known about the potential changes in the dispensation of life-saving hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV antivirals after the initial U.S. outbreak of COVID-19. The objective of this study was to describe the immediate and 1-year impacts of the U.S. outbreak of COVID-19 on monthly dispensing of HIV and HCV antivirals, specifically direct-acting antivirals (DAA) to treat HCV, antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV.
Methods: Authors used interrupted time-series analysis, examining IQVIA National Prescription Audit (includes 92% of U.S. retail pharmacies and 70% of U.S. mail order and long-term care pharmacies) for changes in monthly dispensed prescriptions, 2 years before and 1 year after the initial U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. Fitted linear segmented regression models were used to assess immediate level and slope changes, excluding data from April 2020 as a washout period. Authors stratified analyses by new/refill, age group, payer type, and delivery channel.
Results: After the initial outbreak, DAA prescription dispensing declined by almost one third. The COVID-19 outbreak was associated with an immediate-level decrease in total DAA prescriptions, followed by a slope increase in monthly dispensing. However, by April 2021, monthly DAA dispensing had not recovered to prepandemic levels. In contrast, ART and PrEP dispensing changed little over the same time period.
Conclusions: U.S. dispensing of DAAs to treat HCV fell at the start of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak and has yet to fully recover to prepandemic levels. Addressing barriers to care is crucial to reaching national HIV and hepatitis C elimination goals.