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Lawsuit Targets Prison System Over Hepatitis Care

Associated Press
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Three inmates filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday alleging that the Florida Department of Corrections is failing to provide proper care to thousands of prisoners diagnosed with hepatitis C.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tallahassee, contends in part that the prison system has not provided a relatively new type of drug — known as direct-acting antivirals — effective in treating the liver-damaging disease.

The lawsuit said the department, as of July 2016, knew of 4,790 inmates with chronic hepatitis C but that the actual number could be far higher.

“Despite the clear agreement in the medical community that all persons with chronic HCV (hepatitis C virus) should be treated with DAA (direct-acting antiviral) drugs, the FDC (Florida Department of Corrections) does not provide these lifesaving medications to FDC prisoners with HCV,” wrote lawyers for the Florida Justice Institute, which is representing the inmates.

“Instead, defendant has a policy, custom, and practice of not providing DAA medications to prisoners with HCV, in contravention of the prevailing standard of care and in deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners with HCV.”