Generic Antivirals Equally Effective to Brand Names For Hepatitis C Management

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A full course of brand-name direct-acting antiviral medication that costs $94,000 a patient in the United States can be obtained in generic form for less than $1,000.
A full course of brand-name direct-acting antiviral medication that costs $94,000 a patient in the United States can be obtained in generic form for less than $1,000.

HealthDay News -- Low-cost generic antiviral drugs are as effective and safe as more expensive brand-name drugs in treating people with hepatitis C, according to a study presented at the International Liver Congress, held in Barcelona, Spain.

The study of patients in the United States, Canada, Africa, Australia, Europe, and Southeast Asia found that generic direct-acting antiviral drugs sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), ledipasvir, daclatasvir (Daklinza), and ribavirin (Rebetol) were as effective as brand-name versions.

A full course of brand-name direct-acting antiviral medication that costs $94,000 a patient in the United States can be obtained in generic form for less than $1,000. And, a 12-week course of treatment could cost as little as $200 in coming years, the researchers said in a meeting news release.

"At the price level of generic direct-acting antivirals, treating the entire global hepatitis C epidemic could be financially feasible," study author James Freeman, MB, BS, of GP2U Telehealth in Hobart, Australia, said in the news release. "Furthermore, if a patient is cured of hepatitis C, there is evidence for improved survival and lower risks of liver cancer and liver cirrhosis."

During a press conference on the findings, he added, "generic versions are being mass produced for under 1% of the current US retail price in countries where the patents have been rejected. And under Australian law, the UK, and many other countries, individuals have a right to import a 3-month supply of medication for their personal use.”

In related news from the conference, officials with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Inc noted that Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to donate Daklinza to the Quick-Start program. CHAI has also signed agreements with Hetero, Mylan, and Roche to significantly reduce the costs of diagnosing and curing people living with HCV at health facilities enrolled in the Quick-Start program. The Quick-Start program is a partnership of the CHAI and Duke Health, working in close collaboration with PharmAccess Foundation, Amsterdam, and is designed to is establish HCV treatment projects in several sub-Saharan African countries.

Reference

1. Freeman J. Abstract: LBO3, High sustained virological response rates using generic Direct Acting Antiviral treatment for Hepatitis c, imported into Australia. Presented at: International Liver Congress. April 13-17, 2016; Barcelona, Spain.

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