News at IU

IU experts available to comment on settlement for treating hepatitis C-infected state inmates

January 7, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Department of Correction has entered into a settlement agreement to provide costly but life-saving medication to nearly 3,500 inmates who are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus, or HCV. The agreement is the result of a lawsuit litigated in part by professor Robert Katz of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. The settlement was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on Jan. 2, resolving a federal class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of infected inmates nearly three years ago. Hepatitis C can be cured with direct-acting anti-viral medications. A 12-week course of DAAs costs approximately $25,000 per patient. It will cost between $87 million and $100 million to treat all current inmates in Indiana with chronic HCV. "Approximately 90 percent of infected inmates are ultimately released, and treating them in prison stops them from transmitting the infection to the general population," Katz said. "This is also simply a good use of society's resources. The immediate costs of DAAs are offset by the savings of preventing the more costly late-stage complications of HCV." The legal implications of this case are considerable, not only from an Eighth Amendment prison-rights perspective but also from a wider public-health point of view. "This is an important decision in support of justice and the public's health," said professor Ross Silverman of the McKinney School and the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. "We've seen a significant rise in the number of HCV cases in Indiana. Slowing and ultimately eliminating HCV infection in our state and across the nation depends upon providing treatment to this otherwise vulnerable and hard-to-reach population of people moving in and out of the prison system." For more information, contact John Schwarb at 317-274-2195.

Robert Katz

Rights of prisoners to health care; law of nonprofit organizations; law of health care organizations; wills and trusts; First Amendment; religious freedom restoration acts.

IUPUI

Email: rokatz@iupui.edu

Expert Bio

In addition to his teaching positions in the IU McKinney School of Law and the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, professor Robert Katz also does work in civil rights litigation and advocacy. He is co-counsel in a class action that seeks to compel the Indiana Department of Corrections to provide life-saving treatment to inmates suffering from the Hepatitis C virus. He was co-counsel in Lee v. Pence, which successfully challenged Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. In March 2015, professor Katz testified in opposition to the proposed Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act before the House Judiciary Committee of the Indiana General Assembly. (more)

Ross Silverman

Public health law, ethics and public health and vaccination law, policy and ethics.

IUPUI

Email: rdsilver@iu.edu

Expert Bio

Ross D. Silverman is a professor of health policy and management at the Fairbanks School of Public Health and holds a secondary appointment as professor of public health law at the McKinney School of Law. His research interests include legal, ethical and policy issues in public health. From 1998 to 2013, he was a faculty member at Southern Illinois University's schools of medicine and law. (more)

Photo of Robert Katz
Robert Katz
Print-Quality Photo

Photo of Ross Silverman
Ross Silverman

Resources for the media

Find faculty experts for your story, connect with a media specialist or arrange an interview in one of our studios on campus.

Media resources
Celebrating 200 years