June 14, 2014

Hepatitis C drug is approved: A drug treatment for chronic hepatitis C is to be made available to NHS patients in Scotland


By Press Association, 9 June 2014 11.00pm. Updated: 10 June 2014 5:41am.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved sofosbuvir for restricted use within the NHS.

The SMC said its use addresses an unmet treatment need, while campaigners welcomed the move as a "step in the right direction."

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus thought to affect more than 200,000 people in the UK. It can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer but more than half of those living with the condition are believed to be undiagnosed.

There is no vaccine but treatment can clear the virus in most patients.

Sofosbuvir is the first medicine in a new class and stops the virus from multiplying, according to The Hepatitis C Trust.

It must be given in combination with other medication and is taken in tablet form once a day.

In the absence of other treatment options, the relatively high cost of the drug was deemed acceptable by the SMC, given the expected benefits of the treatment, the charity said.

Petra Wright, Scottish officer for The Hepatitis C Trust said: "The Trust welcomes the SMC's advice that sofosbuvir should be made available to NHS patients in Scotland, in what we hope to be the first of many emerging therapies for Hepatitis C.

"The advent of these 'patient friendly' medications will reduce treatment duration and the severity of side effects experienced by those affected.

"This is a step in the right direction which we hope will hasten the elimination of Hepatitis C from Scotland."

Stelios Karagiannoglou, UK general manager of drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences Ltd, said: "We are pleased that the SMC have recognised the significant efficacy and safety profile demonstrated by sofosbuvir in clinical studies and therefore agree it is a valuable use of NHS resources given the high unmet need in hepatitis C."


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