Tag Archives: WHO

United Kingdom to Attempt Ambitious HCV Plan

HEAL Blog is the recipient of the ADAP Advocacy Association’s 2015-2016 ADAP Social Media Campaign of the Year Award
By: Marcus J. Hopkins, Blogger

In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) set for the globe an ambitious plan for the elimination of both Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) by 2030 (WHO, 2016). In fact, most of the developed First World nations are on track to achieving this goal – the U.S., of course, being the sole lagging nation – while other developing nations – China, Russia, India, and some 5 dozen other countries – have virtually no chance of achieving that goal given existing policies (Connor Roche, 2017). The United Kingdom’s (UK’s) National Health Service (NHS) has developed a far more ambitious goal – the elimination of HCV in the UK by 2025.

NHS sign in foreground, with Big Ben in the background

In order to accomplish this goal, the NHS will be launching the single largest medicines procurement it has ever undertaken in an effort to further drive down the cost of HCV Direct-Acting Antivirals (DAAs). Reporting from Pharmaphorum Connect suggests that NHS is currently paying around £10,000 (≈$14249.30) for a single patient, far lower than the list price that averages £35,000 (≈$49872.55), which is about on par with what certain American programs for lower-income individuals are paying (Staines, 2018).

NHS England currently enjoys a “No Cure, No Fee” payment model with pharmaceutical companies, meaning that if Sustained Virologic Response (SVR) is not achieved using a DAA drug, the manufacturer will refund the cost of the regimen (Alcorn, 2018). This payment model has allowed NHS to save tens-of-thousands of pounds (GBP) per patient, particularly with those who were unable to achieve SVR with a first round of DAAs. The ability to re-treat patients without additional costs is an invaluable tool in limited the high cost of treatment – one that should be replicated, here in the U.S.

To meet the WHO goal of elimination by 2030, the NHS would have to treat and cure 10,000 patients per year; to meet the new NHS elimination goal of 2025, that number would have to increase to 16,000-17,000 per year (Alcorn). That increase may, however, prove unachievable unless rates of diagnosis increase, and the Polaris Observatory warns that without such diagnosis increases, the number of patients being treated could drop to just 5,000 per year (Alcorn).

While the goal is laudable, without cooperation between the NHS and pharmaceutical companies (or an exponential increase in NHS funding specifically for HCV, which is unlikely given the current political climate), it is more likely that NHS will have to fall back on attempting to meet the WHO goal of 2030.

References:

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Disclaimer: HEAL Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community Access National Network (CANN), but rather they provide a neutral platform whereby the author serves to promote open, honest discussion about Hepatitis-related issues and updates. Please note that the content of some of the HEAL Blogs might be graphic due to the nature of the issues being addressed in it.

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Hepatitis C Therapies Added to WHO Essential Medicines List

HEAL Blog is the recipient of the ADAP Advocacy Association’s 2015-2016 ADAP Social Media Campaign of the Year Award
By: Marcus J. Hopkins, Blogger

Since 1977, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published its Essential Medicines List containing the medications considered to be the most effective and safe to meet the important needs in a health system. This year, the organization has included the following Hepatitis C (HCV) Direct Acting Agents (DAAs) Sovaldi (Gilead), Olysio (Janssen), Harvoni (Gilead), Viekira/Viekira XR (AbbVie), Daklinza (Bristol-Myers Squibb), Technivie (AbbVie), and Epclusa (Gilead) (WHO, 2017). Notably absent from this list is Zepatier (Merck) – to date, the lowest priced HCV DAA with a Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) of $54,600.

World Health Organization logo

Since the 2013 launch of Sovaldi and Olysio, new drugs to treat HCV have entered the market at a relatively rapid pace, from just two drugs in 2013, to nine drugs by 2016. That said, two or more new drugs hit the market in 2017:

AbbVie’s new next generation protease inhibitor & NS5A inhibitor known as G/P or GLECAPREVIR/PIBRENTASVIR; Gilead’s new triple [combination] of Sofosbuvir + Velpatasvir + Voxilaprevir which contains their new protease inhibitor (Vox.); [Merck’s new triple combination] (Uprifosbuvir) + Grazoprevir + Rusasvir; [Janssen’s] new triple AL-335 + Odalasvir + Simeprevir (Levin, 2017).

With so many treatment expensive options available to treat HCV, as well as the availability of reasonably priced generics in lower-income countries, there is little doubt that these medicinal cures for HCV should be included in every nation’s list of essential drugs. Furthermore, research shows that the generic versions of Sovaldi, Daklinza, and Rebetol (Ribavirin) are as effective as their brand name counterparts (Preidt, 2016).

Some concerns exist, however, that the high cost of treating HCV in nations who are forced to pay the high price for brand name drugs will prevent these cures from reaching the patients most in need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report detailing how restrictive state Medicaid policies – as well as state restrictions regard Syringe Exchange Services/Programs (SESs/SEPs) – are contributing to the vast increase in new HCV infections (CDC, 2017). Most states’ Medicaid programs require Prior Authorization (PA) standards for HCV drugs that are stricter than for most cancer-related treatments, in no small part because those prerequisites serve as cost containment tools – the more complicated and cumbersome the requirements, the less likely the program is to have to cover the cost of treatment.

While the inclusion of HCV DAAs to the WHO Essential Medicines List is an important step forward toward nations including them on their own lists, the high cost of the medications may prove prohibitive to some nations doing so. As the battle over “what the market will bear” soldiers on, HEAL Blog will continue to monitor the situation.

References:

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Disclaimer: HEAL Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community Access National Network (CANN), but rather they provide a neutral platform whereby the author serves to promote open, honest discussion about Hepatitis-related issues and updates. Please note that the content of some of the HEAL Blogs might be graphic due to the nature of the issues being addressed in it.

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