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Hepatitis C is no longer a death sentence: all patients with hepatitis C in the queue for treatment will be cured in Ukraine

27 July 2018

For the first time in the history of public procurement, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine procured the innovative HCV medicines at the lowest price in the world. The HCV treatment regimen with the direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) will cost 89.00 US dollars in Ukraine. The state-funded program will provide innovative medicines to all hepatitis C patients in the queue for treatment free of charge. This was achieved through the development of an effective international procurement system – public procurement through specialized procurement agencies.

"In 2018, Ukraine will provide an effective treatment free of charge to all patients who need it the most, which means that almost 6 000 people will be cured of HCV. Next year, we will cover all Ukrainians with hepatitis C in the queue for treatment. In fact, we are now at the beginning of a new era in the history of viral hepatitis treatment, meaning that the life-threatening hepatitis will be eliminated in Ukraine," underlined Dr. Ulana Suprun, acting Minister of Health of Ukraine.

Ukraine will procure through international organizations the new interferon-free therapy for hepatitis C, prioritized in the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) Recommendations on Treatment of Hepatitis C.

The change in hepatitis C treatment is phenomenal. The innovative direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) cut the HCV treatment down to 12 weeks for most patients. Ukraine will procure medicines for two types of single-pill fixed-dose combination regimens: Ledipasvir/Sofosbuvir and Daclatasvir/Sofosbuvir*. The treatment has proven to be effective and drove the sustained viral response – over 90% of patients have no detectable virus after 12 weeks of therapy.

The international procurement allowed the supplier of these innovative medicines to access the Ukrainian commercial market. The entry of a new player into the retail market will contribute to increasing competition and thereby significantly reducing the HCV treatment cost to consumers, as it is expected that all pharmacies across the country will lower prices.

"In the near future, the new high-quality hepatitis C medicines will be available in pharmacies! Patients will no longer have to sell all their property to buy hepatitis C drugs! Soon, thanks to the efforts of patient organizations, the therapy will cost 89.00 US dollars in Ukraine. For comparison, similar therapies cost 147 000 US dollars in the USA, and 150 366 US dollars in France," emphasized Dmytro Sherembei, chairman of the Coordination Council of the "100% Life" Charitable Organization.

According to WHO and expert estimates, Ukraine is a country with an average prevalence of HCV infection. About 6 000 Ukrainians are diagnosed with hepatitis each year. Currently, there are 24 786 hepatitis C patients waiting in the queue for treatment and they will be cured of this viral infection in the near future.

The innovative medicines that Ukraine will start procuring this year are pangenotypic, meaning that they are approved to treat all genetic variations of the hepatitis C virus. In addition, these effective medicines are used in line with the latest European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) Recommendations on Treatment of Hepatitis C, which describe the optimal management of patients with acute and chronic HCV infections in 2018 and onwards.

* The original version of this article contained a mistake. The name of the medicine was incorrect. The original article has been corrected. 

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