12 February 2015 | Press releases

Solutions identified to enable affordable medicines for hepatitis C, Unitaid new report highlights

UNITAID signs grant with MSF to spur action.

UNITAID’s newly published analysis on the rapidly changing medicines market for hepatitis C [PDF, 2 MB] indicates four routes by which recently developed but currently prohibitively expensive medicines can be made affordable and available for widespread use.  There are up to 150 million infected worldwide with this curable disease, and up to 700,000 deaths each year from related liver disease.  The new medicines could be game-changers for the fight against the disease if made widely available.  UNITAID has already started working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to demonstrate the feasibility of treating hepatitis C with these new medicines in resource limited settings, including through reducing prices.

The UNITAID report highlights interlinked ways this price reduction gridlock can start to be unblocked, and where global efforts for the disease should concentrate in 2015: the terms of voluntary licenses for generic production must be improved, and,  more middle income countries should be included;  the advocacy which began last year must continue, especially to call for more donor funding, further price reductions, and the rejection of “evergreening patents” on these medicines;  improved diagnostic capabilities are needed to identify many more of those in need and build reliable data to inform on the size of the need, through introducing and scaling up access to more effective and affordable diagnostic devices which can be used where patients are found;  and efforts to demonstrate the viability of testing and treating on a large scale must be pushed.

The new UNITAID work with MSF will start to address this gridlock. Through MSF, patients will be screened, diagnosed and treated in India, Iran, Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar, Uganda and Ukraine to catalyse demand for newly-available medicines. MSF will document feasible, simplified models of care that can be built into global normative guidance and national policies; they will also work with researchers to understand the production costs to support negotiations for lower prices and stimulate entry of generic manufacturers.

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