Access to HBV Treatment Can be Increased Through Use of Low Cost Antivirals

White pills, money, stethoscope, health care
White pills, money, stethoscope, health care
Access to treatment could be increased with reductions in price of HBV antivirals.

Access to treatment for hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be increased by taking advantage of the decreased cost of antivirals that are used to treat HBV infection, according to a report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.1

According to the Global Hepatitis Report,2 approximately 257 million people worldwide were living with chronic HBV infection in 2015. Among these patients, approximately 27 million (10.5%) were aware of their infection, but only 4.5 million (16.7%) were receiving treatment for it.

In 2016, the World Health Organization set viral hepatitis elimination goals, which included a 90% reduction in incidence and a 65% reduction in mortality from hepatitis B and hepatitis C by 2030.

Hutin and colleagues assessed the global progress in access to hepatitis B treatment in 2016 and found that although the median cost of treatment has been dramatically reduced as a result of the production of generic entecavir and tenofovir in most low- and middle-income countries,3 hepatitis B treatment coverage remained low among countries in all income strata, although highest (22%) among upper middle-income countries.1

Although there are limitations to the researchers’ findings, they suggest that development and use of a global care cascade can assist in monitoring progress toward the World Health Organization 2030 HBV elimination goals.1

In addition, “[g]reater community awareness and better understanding of the national disease burden, access to and availability of affordable diagnostics, and trained providers are needed to promote increased access to care,” concluded the authors.

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  1. Hutin Y, Nasrullah M, Easterbrook P, et al. Access to treatment for hepatitis B virus infection — worldwide, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:773-777.
  2. World Health Organization. Global hepatitis report, 2017. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2017. Accessed August 1, 2018.
  3. Hill A, Gotham D, Cooke G, et al. Analysis of minimum target prices for production of entecavir to treat hepatitis B in high- and low-income countries. J Virus Erad 2015;1:103-110.