A review of recent reimbursement data showed considerable variability in access to direct-acting antiviral therapy based on amount of liver scarring and substance use.
April 20, 2017, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Data presented today demonstrate that there are considerable restrictions in the reimbursement of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy across European countries, particularly with respect to the severity of liver fibrosis (scarring of the liver) and prescribing by specialists. The study, presented at The International Liver Congress™ 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, showed that there was evidence that some countries were not following the most recent European HCV treatment guidelines, published by the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) in 2016.
HCV is one of the most widespread transmissible diseases. It can cause both acute and chronic infection, with about 55-85% HCV-infected individuals developing chronic infection. HCV is a leading cause of chronic liver disease, end-stage cirrhosis and liver cancer.4 It is estimated to infect over 71 million people worldwide, of whom 784,000 die each year.5,6 Until the approval of the DAAs, HCV was treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, which caused serious adverse effects in more than 80% of patients, and fewer than 50% were able to finish the course of therapy. These new drugs have revolutionised treatment and mean that HCV is now curable, with a cure rate of 95% or higher.7 Although the DAAs are highly effective, they are expensive and unaffordable if prescribed for all patients.1 Most countries therefore limit access to these drugs.