NHS aims for the England to be first country to eradicate hepatitis C
NHS England has put out plans for England to become the first country to eliminate hepatitis C, at least five years prior to the WHO’s target date of 2030.
It is hoped that the next round of procurement, which launches in February and deemed to be the largest medicines procurement ever done by the NHS, will see new agreements drawn up with drug companies that involve collaboration to identify patients who are living with hepatitis C and require treatment.
NHS England has stated that the approach, combined with the NHS sustaining the same level of investment and the best new treatments being used, “could undoubtedly lead to hepatitis C being eradicated as a major public health concern in the very near future”.
According to the organisation, England is already one of few countries in Europe where the number of patients receiving new oral treatments for the infectious disease are already increasing year on year, due to previous deals agreed with pharma industry.
The previous deals, such as the ‘pay per cure’ scenario where the NHS only foots the bill for treatment when a patient is cured, whilst focusing on prioritising the sickest patients, has driven a 10% reduction in the number of deaths while the number of patients needing a liver transplant has reduced by 50%.
“The progress made in the treatment of hepatitis C has transformed the lives of many of my patients and has been made possible by NHS England working closely with industry to bring prices down and expand treatment options,” said Professor Graham Foster, national clinical chair for Hepatitis C at NHS England.
“Yet we have the opportunity to do so much more. Over the last seven decades, the NHS has been at the forefront of medical innovation – to be able to commit to a world first in the year of the NHS’ 70th anniversary would be another remarkable and truly historic achievement.”
Hailing to move as “wonderful news”, Charles Gore, chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said the proposed deal “will galvanise the action we must take to find all those living with Hepatitis C who have not yet been diagnosed so that we can cure them. It will prevent the liver cancer that Hepatitis C causes. It will save lives.”