This month’s HCV Advocate newsletter has the following important information for every patient with hepatitis C:
HCV Drugs by Alan Franciscus – Epclusa was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June 2016. Why is this combination the best HCV drug yet approved for all genotypes? Read this article to find out about Epclusa and information about other drugs being developed to treat hepatitis C.
HealthWise by Lucinda K. Porter, RN – Hepatitis C Treatment: Getting It and Paying for It – Lucinda discusses how to access treatment – the most important component – don’t give up — and access the options Lucinda discusses in her article.
Health Literacy and Hepatitis C by Matthew Zielske — Matthew discusses the importance of conveying health messages in a meaningful and understandable way that all of us can understand.
SnapShots by Alan Franciscus-I discuss two important studies—one is about the importance of treating people 55, 65 and 70 yo and older and the safety of treating people with sofosbuvir-containing therapies on hemodialysis—a machine that helps to filter blood when the kidneys are not working normally.
The PROP UP Study by Alan Franciscus –an important PCORI study that is recruiting patients to understand certain outcomes from antiviral treatment. I am part of the study and I want to encourage people to enroll. More information is included in the newsletter. People who enroll in the study can earn up to $155.00 by answer survey questions on the phone or by email.
Be sure to check out our new HCV Medications Blog that lists all of the direct-acting antiviral medications including the newly approved Epclusa
We have provided a link to the new Google web service that provides tools to register to vote and to find out if you are already registered to vote. The national election is important but equally important are your local and regional elections.
HCV Advocate Monthly Drug Pipeline Update by Alan Franciscus – I have updated our HCV Drug pipeline to include the latest information about drugs in development to treat hepatitis C including the drugs that have entered into phase 3 clinical development.
Alan and the staff of the HCV Advocate
Get tested, Get Treated, Get Cured
The European Commission has approved US pharma giant Merck & Co’s (NYSE: MRK) Zepatier (elbasvir/grazoprevir) with or without ribavirin (RBV) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype (GT) 1 or GT4 infection in adults.
This approval allows marketing of Zepatier tablets in the 28 countries that are members of the European Union, as well as European Economic Area members, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Merck continues to work to supply the EU market, with product launches estimated to begin between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. Product launches are expected to continue across the EU through 2017.
“The approval of Zepatier in the European Union, following approvals in the United States and Canada earlier this year, is an important step in offering a new and effective treatment for millions of people infected with hepatitis C virus genotype 1 or 4,” said Dr Roger Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories, a USA-based division of Merck. “Zepatier is the most recent advance from MSD [Merck & Co’s trading name outside of North America] in our more than 30-year effort to combat the effects of hepatitis C virus infection, and hence, to reduce the burden of this disease around the world,” he added.
In India, it is estimated that up to 1.5% of the population has a hepatitis C infection, with certain areas in the Punjab, North East and tribal areas considered possible “hepatitis C virus hotspots”. With a global burden of 130-150 million people, hepatitis C, along with hepatitis B, are among the leading causes of liver cancer and pose a significant health challenge.
The standard of care for hepatitis C has changed over the years. Initially, it was only injectable interferon. Later, combinations of injectable interferon or pegylated interferon with ribavirin and protease inhibitors were introduced. More recently, the World Health Organization has recommended that newer oral agents called direct antiviral agents (DAA) be included for all patients with hepatitis C. DAAs have been found to be better tolerated, safer, need to be taken for a shorter time and are more effective.
Dr. Samir Shah, Head, Department of Hepatology, Institute of Liver Diseases, HPB Surgery and Transplant, Global Hospitals,Mumbai recently presented the results from a 14-centre study across India where a DAA, sofosbuvir, was used in an interferon-free combination with ribavirin, for 117 treatment-naïve patients with chronic hepatitis C infections. “We found that this regimen was more effective in our Indian patients than the reports from the West,” he said.
It’s not until the final two stages of liver damage that needy Coloradans with the blood-borne hepatitis C virus get access to a life-saving drug with a 90-percent cure rate and an exorbitant price tag.
“You’ve got to be on death’s door before they will treat you,” said David Higginbotham, a Colorado Medicaid beneficiary who contracted the virus 35 years ago while working as a hospital surgical tech. He would take the 12-week medication “in a heartbeat” if the Colorado Medicaid department would cover it, but Higginbotham’s liver “score” is 1 out of 4, and the government insurance plan won’t pay for the medicine until liver scarring has progressed to a score of at least 3.
Now pressure for change is increasing against the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which has restricted access to the breakthrough drug due to its cost. State officials say they must balance the public health issue with the taxpayer expense of paying the prescriptions of the more than 9,000 people with hepatitis C on the government insurance system.
CANBERRA, July 28 (Xinhua) — Australia is on track to eliminate Hepatitis C in ten years if the current trend of people living with the virus getting new antiviral treatment continues, said a new analysis released on Thursday, the World Hepatitis Day.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley said that 20,000 Australians had already begun treatment to cure their debilitating Hepatitis C since the government first listed the breakthrough medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in March 2016.
She said about 5,000 of these Australians have already completed their course of treatment and early-indications show them to be free of the blood-borne liver disease.
End Hep C SF is a multi-sector collective impact* initiative that utilizes evidence-based practices, community wisdom, and the creative leveraging of resources to work toward hepatitis C elimination in San Francisco. San Francisco has a history of innovative and ambitious public health efforts. End Hep C SF emerges from that history to tackle an epidemic that kills more Americans than the deaths from sixty other reportable infectious diseases, including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis, combined.
San Francisco is impacted profoundly by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), a communicable liver disease that is a significant driver of morbidity, liver cancer, and death.
The availability of highly effective, well-tolerated oral HCV therapy gives us the remarkable ability to cure HCV in nearly all people living with the virus. We now have the tools to greatly reduce the negative health consequences of HCV, to break the cycle of forward transmission through cure as prevention, and to ultimately eliminate HCV in San Francisco.
To realize the potential of modern HCV therapy, we have established End Hep C SF. Our long-term strategic plan is to lay the foundation for HCV elimination in San Francisco through a comprehensive approach based on three pillars.