According to WHO estimates, 130 to 150 million people around the world are living with chronic hepatitis C. Most of them are unaware of their infection, leaving them at risk of advanced liver disease and liver cancer.
Treatment of hepatitis C has been revolutionized in the past two years. New antiviral combinations can eliminate hepatitis C in most patients and have fewer side effects. Cures can even be achieved in people with advanced cirrhosis, HIV coinfection and other severe comorbidities who were, until recently, considered difficult-to-treat. While side effects or drug interactions are still possible, most patients experience the new antiviral treatments as much easier than the old interferon-based treatments.
Nowadays we do have the tools to eliminate hepatitis C by screening, diagnosing, and treating patients who are infected with the hepatitis C virus.
The high prices of the new drugs, however, still pose a significant barrier to access around the globe. Some progress has been made: Medical guidelines in many developed countries now recommend the new interferon-free treatments, while some still restrict their use to patients with advanced liver disease. Manufacturers have agreed on discounts with national insurances and health systems, and allowed generic antivirals to be produced in several developing countries. In real life however, the problem is far from solved, and access often restricted by payers.
At our symposium, we want to look at the big picture: How does access work across the differentcontinents? What has improved since 2014 when the first new antivirals were introduced, whichsolutions work, which obstacles remain? We are pleased to welcome experts from Europe, USA,Australia and Africa who will shed a light on the current situation, and also explain what this meansfrom a patient’s perspective. At the end of the presentations, participants from the audience as well
as speakers are invited to join our panel discussion.
Tatjana Reic, President
European Liver Patients Association (ELPA)
Opening by Tatjana Reic
President European Liver Patients Association
- HCV DAAs access limitations in the US
Tracy Swan – Hepatitis/HIV Project Director TAG (United States)
- HCV DAAs access limitations in EuropeAntonio Craxi MD – Professor of Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine,
Head of Dept. of Internal Medicine and Medical Specialities University of Palermo (Italy) presentation
- HCV DAAs access limitations, consequences for me as a patient
Gjulten Abdullai – Hepar Centar Bitola (Macedonia)
- The Portuguese best practice: no limitations and treatment for all patients
Luis Mendão – EATG/GAT, Co-chair CSF HIV/AIDS (Portugal) presentation
- The Australian case: late access but no limitations
Helen Tyrrell – Chief Executive Officer Hepatitis Australia (Australia) presentation
- HCV DAAs access in Egypt and poorest countries, do the generics change the history?
Gamal Shiha MD – Professor of Internal Medicine, Head of G.I & Liver Unit Mansoura University, Head of Association of Hepatic Patients Care Egypt, Chairman of African Liver Patients Association (ALPA) (Egypt) presentation
- Innovative sources for funding of viral hepatitis prevention and treatment in low and middle income countries
Daniel Lavanchy MD – VHPB Honorary Advisor, health care consultant (Switzerland) presentation
- Panel discussion: What is needed to eliminate hepatitis C? What do we learn from countries with access to treatment for all? Which efforts are successful to balance profit and patients access?