Exclusive: 71 million people stand to benefit from reduced price treatment for virus which can lead to liver cirrhosis, cancer and death
An affordable hepatitis C treatment has been shown to be safe and effective, with very high cure rates for patients including hard-to-treat cases, in interim clinical trial results that offer hope to the 71 million people living with the disease worldwide.
The treatment is expected to cost $300 for 12 weeks, or $3.50 per day, in Malaysia, where trials were conducted along with Thailand a fraction of the cost of other hepatitis C medicines produced by major drugmakers, which often run to tens of thousands of dollars.
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit organisation, is working with the Egyptian drugmaker Pharco Pharmaceuticals to bring a combination treatment of two hepatitis C tablets, ravidasvir (a new drug) and sofosbuvir, to countries that cannot afford to pay the high prices charged by US companies Gilead and AbbVie. This is taking longer than expected but has moved a big step closer with the latest results.
The interim results of the phase II/III trial of 301 people will be presented in Paris on Thursday. It has been funded by Mdecins Sans Frontires, one of DNDis founding partners which also include Frances Institut Pasteur.
DNDi said 97% of patients were cured after being treated with the combination pill for 12 weeks. Even hard-to-treat cases such as people with HIV or liver cirrhosis showed very high cure rates, of 96% and 97% respectively.