Access to Hepatitis C Medicines: Improving Access to Essential Innovative Treatments. Access-to-medicine Strategy Analysis, 24 November, 2015
(2015; 22 pages)

Abstract

New treatments offer the chance to curb the global hepatitis C epidemic. The companies responsible for innovating and producing these drugs can play a central role in achieving this important goal. The Access to Medicine Foundation recommends that companies make greater efforts to improve the affordability of these drugs, support the entry of generic medicine manufacturers to ensure supply and affordability, and implement access strategies early in the development of promising drugs.

An estimated 185 million people globally are infected with the hepatitis C virus, with 350,000-500,000 people dying of this disease each year. The vast majority (80%) of those affected by hepatitis C live in low- and middle-income countries. From 2011, a new generation of hepatitis C drugs began to enter the market, revolutionising treatment through simpler administration, higher cure rates and shorter course durations than previous therapies. These drugs represent a real possibility for controlling the epidemic, and an effective cure. In May 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) responded by adding six of these drugs to the WHO Essential Medicines List. This sent a clear signal about their importance and the need for them to be made available. For donors and countries to engage in the provision of these treatments effectively, the drugs need to be affordable and supply needs to be secured. What are pharmaceutical companies doing to help ensure that these goals are achieved?

In a study published on 1 November 2015 in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, we have examined the pipelines and on-market products for hepatitis C of 20 of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, as well as their strategies for supporting access to these treatments in 107 low- and middle-income countries.

The study represents the first overview of access-to-medicine activities being undertaken by these companies in the hepatitis C space. This report includes the full text of the study as published in the Bulletin (see pp 7-13), as well as supplementary information on a company-by-company, product-by-product basis about the access strategies deployed by the companies examined (see pp 14-16).

 
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