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Drugs in Development / Clinical Trials—Updated February 6, 2015
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease, complications can lead to death. Affecting over 3 million people in the US, the disease is particularly dangerous because there are few noticeable symptoms early on.
Wednesday evening, Unity Health Care announced a study to show how health care providers can treat Hepatitis C.
Called the ASCEND study, 600 DC patients will be treated with Harvoni, a newly FDA approved medication. Unity Health Care is partnering with the National Institutes of Health, the University of Maryland, and Family and Medical Counseling Services Inc. to conduct the research.
“For primary care providers looking to address hepatitis, the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Continuing Education Department holds a program 4-9:30 p.m. March 17 at Barker’s Island Inn and Convention Center in Superior”. “The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates 74,000 people in Wisconsin are infected; 50 percent of them baby boomers.
The Institute of Medicine reports that up to 75 percent of those infected are unaware they are infected. Yet, with appropriate care, hepatitis C can be a curable infection”.
Since AbbVie’s approval of Viekira Pak to treat HCV genotype 1 there have been many negotiations between the various insurance companies and pharmacies for price reductions. This has led to steep price cuts. The California Technology Assessment Forum (CTAF) met earlier this year and voted that Harvoni represented a “LOW” health system value based on the price of $95,000 for the 12 week price. CTAF reasoned that this would increase Medicaid costs by over 5% in a single year if all patients with HCV were treated. Now, that the price is in the $34,000 to $42,000 range for the average course of therapy, CTAF has changed its assessment to “HIGH” health system value. This is good news for the state Medicaid budgets and patients. Hopefully, this will translate into treatment for more patients.
The Chronic Hepatitis Cohort Study (CheCS) is a large ongoing national study. Electronic health records from four sites for the period between 1/1/2006 and 12/31/2010 were provided for this study. Overall 4,781 surveys were completed. Of these, the average age was 57 yo, 71% were white, 57% male, 51% had past injection drug use, 34% were current smokers, and 18% abused alcohol in the past year. In regards to treatment, 47% had been treated previously and 15% had achieved SVR12.
A recent study from the Netherlands sheds some very positive light on how being cured affects long-term survival. The researchers analyzed data between 1990 and 2003 from 5 hepatology centers in Europe and Canada. The patients were treated, and were followed beginning 24 weeks after treatment ended. Follow-up was competed in 454 patients—median age was 48, most were male (70%) and 36% patients were cured. The median follow-up period was 8.4 years (6.4 to 11.4 years). Importantly, all of the patients had advanced fibrosis.
The 10-year survival of the people who were cured was 91%, which did not differ from the age- and sex-match of the general population – in other words being cured of hepatitis C and advanced fibrosis meant that people would live as long as someone without hepatitis C—that’s pretty important and impressive.