Global Report on Access to Hepatitis C Treatment. Focus on Overcoming Barriers. October 2016
(2016; 68 pages)

Abstract

Worldwide, approximately 80 million people are living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) and millions more are newly infected each year. Annually, 700 000 people die from HCV-related complications, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Despite the scope and severity of the epidemic caused by HCV, until recently, the global response to reduce the burden of this disease has been very limited and the available treatment was expensive, poorly tolerated and had low cure rates. Once infected with hepatitis C there was little chance of being, cured, particularly for people living in low- or middle-income countries.

The field of HCV therapeutics has evolved rapidly: in 2013, the treatment of HCV was transformed by the introduction of a new class of medicines called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). An 8–12-week course of these medicines can cure more than 90% of persons with chronic HCV infection. These new oral treatments offer tremendous opportunities and hope to all those who are infected. As with the upcoming new HIV treatment 20 years ago, we now have to ensure that these lifesaving treatments become accessible to all those who need them. This requires all stakeholders to work together to overcome barriers to access.

This is the first-ever global report on treatment access to hepatitis C medicines. The report provides the information that countries and health authorities need to identify the appropriate HCV treatment, and procure it at affordable prices.

The report uses the experience of several pioneering countries to demonstrate how barriers to treatment access can be overcome. It also provides information on the production of new hepatitis C drugs and generic versions worldwide, including where the drugs are registered, where the drugs are patented and where not, and what opportunities countries have under the license agreements that were signed by some companies as well as current pricing of all recommended DAAs, including by generic companies all over the world.

Comparable to the early days of HIV treatment, high prices are a barrier to the scale up of HCV treatment. The new medicines were introduced at very high prices, in particular, in high-income countries. However, the pricing situation is not static and the report shows that prices in low- and certain middle-income countries are rapidly declining. Today countries can make lifesaving health services for the treatment of HCV a reality.

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