BETHLEHEM, Pa., June 25, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- OraSure Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:OSUR) announced today its support for the new recommendations issued today by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), giving both hepatitis C (HCV) screening for at-risk individuals and age-cohort screening a 'B' grade. Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive services that have received an 'A' or 'B' grade from the USPSTF must be covered by insurance policies without cost-sharing and be part of the essential health benefits for those individuals eligible for Medicare.
The new recommendations, entitled "Screening for Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement," are a significant expansion of the USPSTF's previous recommendation of screening for HCV. This new recommendation is in response to the higher prevalence of HCV infection in Baby Boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965), approximately 80 million individuals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one out of every 30 Baby Boomers is living with hepatitis C infection. The USPSTF is recommending that all Baby Boomers be tested for hepatitis C at least once.
According to the CDC, the hepatitis C virus infection is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States. Up to 75 percent of people with hepatitis C are unaware of their infection. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants in the United States. If left undetected and untreated, the total medical costs for patients with HCV are expected to nearly triple over the next 20 years – from $30 billion to $85 billion according to the Millman Report entitled "Consequences of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV): Costs of a Baby Boomer Epidemic of Liver Disease.""We applaud the new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, which will help to make hepatitis C screening much more accessible as a regular part of medical care," said Douglas A. Michels, President and Chief Executive Officer of OraSure Technologies. "As a result of the recommendations, we believe that over time more individuals will get tested and learn their hepatitis C status, and we expect that our OraQuick® Rapid HCV test will enable individuals presumed to be infected to be referred immediately for follow-up care."