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NHS England agrees funding for life-saving hepatitis C drug

NHS England has approved an £18.7 million investment in a new drug for the treatment of hepatitis C.

Around 500 patients with acute liver failure, and/or awaiting liver transplantation, are expected to benefit from the decision to fund Sofosbuvir.

The hepatitis C virus causes inflammation of the liver, affecting its ability to function. Whilst many sufferers naturally clear their infections within six months, others develop chronic hepatitis which is usually life-long without therapy.

Current estimates indicate that around 30% of people infected with chronic hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis of the liver which, in some cases, may prove fatal without a liver transplant.

The recommendation of NHS England’s Clinical Priorities Advisory Group (CPAG) means that whilst not yet NICE-approved, Sofosbuvir will be funded for those patients at significant risk of mortality or who require transplantation.

View NHS England’s policy statement on the funding of Sofosbuvir. The drug, which will be available as an oral formulation, will be used in combination with another antiviral agent.

James Palmer, Clinical Director, Specialised Services, said:

“This is a major step forward for patients with this debilitating, and often life-threatening, disease and is evidence of NHS England’s commitment to widen access to cutting edge drugs, treatments and therapies where both clinically appropriate and cost effective.

“The majority of these patients will already be under the care of a specialist treatment centre, and we will ensure that clinicians are aware of this policy, so that all eligible patients have the opportunity to access this drug”.

Professor Graham Foster, Professor of Hepatology and co-Chair of the Hepatitis C Clinical Reference Group sub-group welcomed the news. He said:

“The recently licensed, new, direct-ac ting antiviral drugs for hepatitis C may be life-saving for infected patients with advanced cirrhosis. I am delighted that NHS England will make these drugs available for these patients and allow us to treat those in urgent need.

“The availability of these drugs will ensure that NHS patients are among the first in Europe to benefit from these revolutionary new drugs”.

NICE is currently developing Technology Appraisal Guidance relating to Sofosbuvir, which is due to be published later this year. The NHS England policy position will be reviewed once NICE has published this guidance.

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7 comments

  1. Lynne Wilson says:

    My husband has Hepatitis C, genotype 1 and is waiting for the new treatment to be available on the NHS. We were wondering if this is available yet or when it is likely to be? Thanks.

  2. Natividad says:

    I had the new drug sofosbucir pls ledivacir under the 500 people in England I am married with an English and living innengland and married for 16 years , my liver was in goo condition bu gave non hocking lymphoma,what is more normal in Mediterranean countries ,if I do not take the drug my lymphoma even if ingot cure will probably came back again .i did not ask for drug my hepatologist refered me fo the proposition, I had don rather lot of test and I am having the drug at the same time Thames chromite pie,we’ll tolerate , be positive I am sure drug will be awaileble for many people,happy to know that the hep c gave m my lymphoma, other way the professor told me the will not gave the drug not secondary effects I fell fantastic .goodbkuch

  3. Peter Agnew says:

    I am a non responder to interferon treatment six years ago I am very symptomatic, suffer terrible migraines have arthritis depression and all that stuff together with splenomegaly, low platelet and white cell count, I live in Hastings east Sussex and am under doctor Radamaker’s clinic.
    I have asked for sfosbuvir treatment but was told I must wait…… watchful waiting has been my life for so many years while it feels like I am slowly dying and constantly getting fobbed off…..I am not given information ,I have to find everything out myself …..I have had hepatitis since 1986 when I had jaundice and was very ill….. surgery to remove gall bladder and abscesses on my liver followed in2001 …I’m told I have a sticky heart valve and liver damage now including scars……so much I wish for any chance to get better

  4. mARIA says:

    I suffer from Cirrhosis with F4 due to HCV/gen 3a/ infected for 35 yrs. Dr. Brown/ St.Mary’s Hosp. and team, never mentioned the new drug. Specialist nurse passed me to psychiatrist to put off my start date treatment until complained as not depression was diagnosed. Over 6 months waiting, I’m in week 11 Peg-inf+ribv. I was ignored and passed to the psychiatrist ‘s, to be their cash-caw. No endoscopies/ missing Ultra Sounds/no diagnosis issued to me/no prognosis. That’s no right. Thank you.

  5. mark says:

    I have recently been diagnosed HCV and it looks like I have had it for 30 years liver fibroscan 10.6 so liver damage. How ill will I have to get before I qualify for new treatment that has a very good chance of success? Dont the NHS have a legal and moral obligation to make the treatment available to all with the disease. I have paid tax and NI for 30 odd years isn’t that the deal?

  6. liz farrington says:

    How is equitable care going to be delivered here to ensure we don’t have yet again a postcode lottery of care?