Access to Hepatitis C Medicines
(2015; 7 pages)

Abstract

Hepatitis C is a global epidemic. Worldwide, 185 million people are estimated to be infected, most of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. Recent advances in the development of antiviral drugs have produced therapies that are more effective, safer and better tolerated than existing treatments for the disease. These therapies present an opportunity to curb the epidemic, provided that they are affordable, that generic production of these medicines is scaled up and that awareness and screening programmes are strengthened.

Pharmaceutical companies have a central role to play. We examined the marketed products, pipelines and access to medicine strategies of 20 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Six of these companies are developing medicines for hepatitis C: AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. and Roche. These companies employ a range of approaches to supporting hepatitis C treatment, including pricing strategies, voluntary licensing, capacity building and drug donations. We give an overview of the engagement of these companies in addressing access to hepatitis C products. We suggest actions companies can take to play a greater role in curbing this epidemic:

  1. prioritizing affordability assessments;
  2. developing access strategies early in the product lifecycle; and
  3. licensing to manufacturers of generic medicines.
 
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