Welcome to HCV Advocate’s hepatitis blog. The intent of this blog is to keep our website audience up-to-date on information about hepatitis and to answer some of our web site and training audience questions. People are encouraged to submit questions and post comments.

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Alan Franciscus
Editor-in-Chief
HCV Advocate
HBV Advocate

Drugs in Development / Clinical Trials—Updated March 17, 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Canada: Province covers cost of new hepatitis C drugs

The Saskatchewan government says it will now provide new drug coverage for hepatitis C -- a viral disease that affects the liver.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan says the new drugs, Harvoni and Sovaldi, are better tolerated by patients than other therapies.

The drugs are said to cure 90 to 98 per cent of patients in as little as eight to 12 weeks.

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Splashes & Sharps: Occupational Exposures in the Health Care Setting

Many risky, splash-creating activities are conducted without the proper PPE because there is a lower perceived risk.

 When it comes to health care occupational risks, slips, trips, and falls are often the first to come to mind. Sharps also make the top of the list, but what is often overlooked is the cousin to sharps: splashes. Also known as mucocutaneous blood exposures, splashes are a notable risk for health care workers. Splashes—from routine activities such as cutting catheter bags, cleaning bedpans, and emptying suction cups—can land on a caregiver, where it can transfer a pathogen through the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 385,000 health care works in hospitals suffer sharps-related injuries. 1 By comparison, a study led by Doebbeling, et al. at the Veterans Administration found that in the previous three months, roughly 38 percent of all RNs had experienced a splash. Making the risk even more serious, they found that more than a quarter of these splashes went unreported. 2

Splashes, like sharps, can present serious risks to health care employees. This is because they can cause occupational-related infections, ranging from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to hepatitis B virus (HBV) to hepatitis C virus (HCV).3. Occupational exposures such as splashes can lead to lost work days, financial burden, and physical impairment. They also can take an emotional toll on those exposed.

*PPE = Personal protective equipment

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Hepatitis on the Hill —Lucinda K. Porter, RN

I have been doing hepatitis C advocacy for nearly 18 years. My hope and fury have never been greater. We can cure hepatitis C, but people are having a hard time getting the medications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HCV testing for baby boomers, but we aren’t doing it. This is the sort of stuff that drives me wild.
HCV Advocate Editor-in-Chief Alan Franciscus asked me if I would attend “Hepatitis on the Hill,” held in Washington, DC on March 9 and 10. After years of complaining about the government’s anemic response to the hepatitis C epidemic, I automatically said “yes.”

Approximately 75 hepatitis advocates met in Washington, DC, for Hepatitis on the Hill. Hosted by the Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership, Hep B United and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, and supported by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, the event focused on increasing the federal response to the viral hepatitis epidemic in the United States.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is killing more Americans every year than HIV is, but dollar for dollar, hep C funding is pennies compared to HIV’s. State health departments’ Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator programs receive less than $1 in federal funding for every person living with viral hepatitis. In the meantime, hep C infection and death rates continue to rise. Immunizing all children against hepatitis B virus (HBV) also continues to be a problem.

Advocates from hep B and C groups attended Hepatitis on the Hill. The first day focused on core issues, particularly why now is the time for this level of advocacy. President Obama’s budgetary request for viral hepatitis programs is double that of previous budgets, and the advocates learned how to ask for support from their senators and congressional representatives.

The next day, advocates visited the offices of their senators and representatives on Capitol Hill, educating their staff on the experiences of people living with hep B and C. At each office, the advocates requested the following:
  • Signature of House/Senate letter in support of the president’s proposed FY2016 budget to increase funding of the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis to $62.8 million, and include the request in the member appropriations submissions
  • Support the repeal of the federal funding ban on syringe services programs
  • That their elected official would join the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), MD, spoke during lunch on Capitol Hill. Cassidy is a hepatologist, committed to issues surrounding viral hepatitis. Ronald Valdiserri, MD (deputy assistant secretary for health, infectious diseases, at the Department of Health and Human Services), and John Ward, MD (director of the CDC’s division of viral hepatitis), also spoke at Hepatitis on the Hill. Ward emphasized the urgent nature of acting now, saying we can prevent approximately 300,000 deaths.

Presentations by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Mike Honda (D-CA), Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) were televised at the event. These congressional representatives introduced the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act of 2015 (HR 1101). In addition to being an ally in Congress, Johnson has been public about his hepatitis C status, treatment and eventual cure.

For information about how to support efforts to improve viral hepatitis funding and services, visit Lucinda Porter’s blog (blogs.hepmag.com/lucindakporter). The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable and Caring Ambassadors Hepatitis C provide ongoing coverage of the latest news and advocacy alerts related to viral hepatitis in the U.S.

Portions of this article by Lucinda K. Porter first appeared in Hep Magazine, March 16, 2015.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pakistan: Thousands of Pakistan made anti Hepatitis C injections expire

Islamabad- About 10000 injections developed by Punjab University (PU) for treatment of Hepatitis-C have gone redundant, due to negligence of provincial and federal governments.

The government has shifted all the burden of this scam to the shoulders of former PPP led government. PU medical experts had developed 100000 injections for cure of Hepatitis-C at the cost of Rs 7 million, but these have gone time barred while lying in stores, due to non-granting of permission by ministry of health and regulation for conducting laboratory test.

PU Molecular Biology department worked out plan to develop cheap Interferon injection for treatment of Hepatitis C and funds were also provided to the experts of the respective department. The said injection was developed within the span of 5 years time. The permission was sought from federal ministry for health and regulation for laboratory test of these injections. This application was kept unattended in Islamabad secretariat, for two years. These 100000 injections which were prepared for poor patients were wasted, for want of permission by the then minister of health Ejaz Jakhrani and secretary health Khushnood Lashari.

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Tazo tea luminary Steven Smith died of liver cancer caused by hepatitis C, a hidden epidemic

After Tazo co-founder Steven Smith died at 65 on March 23, an article on his exceptional life as a serial entrepreneur and whimsical tea visionary attracted more than 100,000 clicks on oregonlive.com -- a lot for a news obituary.

But some readers wrote to The Oregonian with questions. They wanted to know the cause of death. They asked why Smith, still bubbling with energy and ideas, died so relatively young.

On Monday, Smith's widow, Kim DeMent -- a remarkable woman in her own right, who runs Steven Smith Teamaker, dances with BodyVox and writes lyrically -- explained why. The answer should concern baby boomers and others, because it involves a little-known epidemic that could take many more lives at any age without simple precautions.

Smith died from complications of liver cancer.

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Canada: Ontario decision to cover costly hepatitis C drug a lifesaver, doctor says

Ottawa liver specialist Dr. Curtis Cooper is calling Ontario’s decision to pay for new treatments that can cure hepatitis C a “landmark event” that will change the lives of thousands of people with the disease.

Cooper, director of The Ottawa Hospital and Regional Hepatitis Program, sees thousands of hepatitis C patients, many of whom will benefit from the new drug therapy now that it is covered by the province.

“This is going to mean the difference between health or illness and death,” for many patients, he said.

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Ireland: UP to 80 seriously ill Hepatitis C patients have cleared virus from their blood

New treatment was given to the patients after doctors warned they were not responding to other drugs.

The treatment, which costs around €45,000 to €55,000 per patient was given to the patients after doctors warned they were not responding to other drugs.

Dr Suzanne Norris, a gastroenterologist at St James's Hospital in Dublin, said the patients will continue to be monitored over the coming months to determine their response.

Earlier this year Health Minister Leo Varadkar said a programme was being put in place to provide early access to the powerful new direct-acting anti-viral drugs for Hepatitis C patients with the greatest clinical need, due to the advanced nature of their condition.

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