To fight Hepatitis C, two new low-cost drugs have been launched in the Indian market.
During a conference organised by Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) and Asia Pacific Association for Study of Liver (APASL), noted liver specialist Dr Shiv Sarin, said:
“Hepatitis C virus is a silent killer as people get to know about the disease suddenly after 20 or 25 years. With the launch of these two new drugs, India can cure all types of Hepatitis C that too at an affordable rate as these drugs are up to 300 per cent cheaper as compared to foreign countries.”
“The two new drugs, along with oral antiviral drug, have brought fresh hope to Hepatitis C infected patients whose treatment heavily depends upon weekly injections with notorious side effects,” doctors said.
According to World Health Organisation
, an estimated 130–150 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis-C infection.
Approximately 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver diseases.
Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is a blood-borne virus and spreads through unsafe injection practices, inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
People who are chronically infected by the disease develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
In India, there is an alarming rise in cases of Hepatitis B and C over the years.
Speaking about it, Dr Sarin said that ILBS alone has over 7,500 patients registered with either of these diseases on regular follow up. He added that these numbers are only expected to go up with time, and the institute has observed a sharp increase in the number of patients infected with liver cancer related to Hepatitis C.
With the launch of these two new drugs, now 95 per cent of patients in India can be treated. Also, the drugs are safe and effective in patients with kidney disease and Thalassemia.
US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director John W Ward said:
“Given the public health benefits of HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) prevention, testing, care and treatment, the World Health Organisation is proposing global goals for the elimination of HCV transmission and mortality.”
The drugs provide a new lease of life to critically ill patients who cannot immediately undergo liver transplantation, experts added.