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NHS England agrees funding for new drug treatments for Hep C
In what will be the NHS’ single largest investment in new treatments this year, NHS England has today (11 June 2015) announced the budget will be increased to £190 million for new virological cures for hepatitis C, from the approximately £40 million which began last year.
Thousands of patients in England with cirrhosis caused by the hepatitis C virus will now be able to access new treatment options to prevent further damage to the liver, including the potential of end stage liver disease or cancer. The hepatitis C virus affects the liver’s ability to function and is most commonly a result of the use of infected needles by intravenous drug users.
Richard Jeavons, NHS England’s Director of Specialised Services, said: “At a time when funding is inevitably constrained across the NHS this is a huge new investment; in fact it’ll be the NHS’ single largest new treatment expansion this year. That’s why we’re also running a competitive tendering process in parallel, to seek to bring down the price of these very expensive new drugs.”
Peter Moss, a Consultant and Chair of NHS England’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Reference Group, said: “The new anti-viral drugs being made available through this scheme offer a huge improvement in care for patients with hepatitis C-related liver cirrhosis”.
Charles Gore, Chief Executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said: “Patients with cirrhosis will be delighted to have access to these new drugs. They are so tolerable that almost all of those with cirrhosis will want to take them and so potent that almost of those that do will be cured of their hepatitis C thereby massively reducing their risk of liver failure or liver cancer.
“This is a big step forward towards reversing the rising death-toll from this disease. People living with hepatitis C have been waiting for this revolution in therapy with huge expectation and now it has arrived we hope NHS England will move quickly to make it available to a rapidly increasing number of patients.”