HCV antivirals are new target for humanitarian prices

The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, has told Reuters that hepatitis C is the new HIV in terms of a “pressing” pricing issue to enable access in developing countries.

The news analysis (see link below) notes, however, that most cases of HCV are not in such poor areas as the sub-Sahara region that had been affected by HIV with initial poor access to antivirals.

Yet Margaret Chan told Reuters that she believed developers of recent HCV treatments could grant low-cost licences to companies in places such as India.

Reuters reported pharmaceutical companies considering how they would show “responsibility”. These include Gilead, which is behind the antiviral against chronic HCV infection, sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) – granted a positive opinion for European regulatory approval in November 2013.

Johnson & Johnson also has an antiviral for the same hepatitis C indication, simeprevir (Olysio) – approved for use in the US in November 2013 – and other companies are in the field too.

“As Gilead HCV medicines advance through the research and development pipeline, we will evaluate opportunities to incorporate them into our access programmes.”
Gilead statement.


Reuters analysis:

Fight for cheap drugs shifts from AIDS to new hepatitis pills

Reference links:

Responsibility: Developing world access (statements at the Gilead website).

Sovaldi regulatory approval information (European Medicines Agency).

Social responsibility: Access to medicines (statements at the J&J website).

Olysio (simeprevir) receives FDA approval for combination treatment of chronic hepatitis C (J&J press release).

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