Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NHS England investing an extra £190 million in new cures for Hepatitis C

Thousands more patients to be cured of Hepatitis C

10 June 2015 - 11:02

NHS England agrees funding for new drug treatments for Hep C totalling almost a quarter of a billion pounds.

In what will be the NHS’ single largest investment in new treatments this year, NHS England has today (10 June 2015) announced it will be investing an estimated further £190 million in new cures for Hepatitis C, on top of the approximately £40 million extra which began last year.

Thousands of patients in England with cirrhosis caused by the Hepatitis C Virus will now be able to access new treatment options which can cure the virus and therefore prevent further damage to the liver, including the potential of end stage liver disease or cancer. The hepatitis C virus affects the liver’s ability to function and is most commonly a result of the use of infected needles by intravenous drug users.

The widening of NHS England’s ‘early access’ scheme to patients with cirrhosis will see an expected additional 3,500 patients accessing treatment in this year, representing an additional investment of around £190m. This is additional to the new funding introduced last year for patients at imminent risk of liver failure, benefiting around 1000 people so far.

Richard Jeavons, NHS England’s Director of Specialised Services, said: “At a time when funding is inevitably constrained across the NHS this is a huge new investment; in fact it’ll be the NHS’ single largest new treatment expansion this year. That’s why we’re also running a competitive tendering process in parallel, to seek to bring down the price of these very expensive new drugs.”

Peter Moss, a Consultant and Chair of NHS England’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Reference Group, said: “The new anti-viral drugs being made available through this scheme offer a huge improvement in care for patients with hepatitis C-related liver cirrhosis. Now we are in a position to cure the large majority of patients and so to prevent further liver damage and premature death.”
Infectious Diseases Clinical Reference Group

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said: “Patients with cirrhosis will be delighted to have access to these new drugs. They are so tolerable that almost all of those with cirrhosis will want to take them and so potent that almost of those that do will be cured of their hepatitis C thereby massively reducing their risk of liver failure or liver cancer.

“This is a big step forward towards reversing the rising death-toll from this disease. People living with hepatitis C have been waiting for this revolution in therapy with huge expectation and now it has arrived we hope NHS England will move quickly to make it available to a rapidly increasing number of patients.”

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