MUMBAI, India, July 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
A good reason to celebrate,
In India, it is estimated that up to 1.5% of the population has a hepatitis C infection, with certain areas in the Punjab, North East and tribal areas considered possible "hepatitis C virus
The standard of care for hepatitis C has changed over the years. Initially, it was only injectable interferon. Later, combinations of injectable interferon or pegylated interferon with ribavirin and protease inhibitors were introduced. More recently, the World Health Organization has recommended that newer oral agents called direct antiviral agents (DAA) be included for all patients with hepatitis C. DAAs have been found to be better tolerated, safer, need to be taken for a shorter time and are more effective.
Dr. Samir Shah, Head, Department of Hepatology, Institute of Liver Diseases, HPB Surgery and Transplant, Global Hospitals, Mumbai recently presented the results from a 14-centre study across India where a DAA, sofosbuvir, was used in an interferon-free combination with ribavirin, for 117 treatment-naïve patients with chronic hepatitis C infections. "We found that this regimen was more effective in our Indian patients than the reports from the West," he said.
Also encouraging are the results from another small study where Dr. Shah and his colleagues compared the generic version of the drug with the original molecule and found the two drugs to be comparable in their effectiveness. The results offer fresh hope that treatment for hepatitis C can now potentially help to reduce the hepatitis C virus burden in our country and also improve access to care. Treatment for hepatitis C now costs about INR 50 000 for 3 months in India.
Dr. Shah added, "Although effective generic drugs have brought down treatment cost for hepatitis C, there are a large number of people who still cannot afford the full treatment. We would all like to urge the government to consider a national level initiative that can provide support to those for whom the treatment cost is still high, particularly in states with a higher incidence."
However, not everyone infected with the hepatitis C virus has obvious symptoms. Dr. Dharmesh Kapoor, Consultant, Hepatologist, Global Hospitals Hyderabad, said, "There is no vaccine for the prevention of the so controlling it hinges on good prevention practices and effective treatment. Hepatitis C virus usually causes a chronic infection, but can sometimes present as acute hepatitis. The acute infection is usually asymptomatic, which means that the person will not realize he/she is infected. About 15-45% of infected persons spontaneously clear the virus within 6 months of infection without any treatment. The rest of the 55-85% of persons will develop a chronic hepatitis C infection, of these, 15-30% may develop liver cirrhosis in the next 20 years."
Dr. Kapoor added, "The commonest cause of hepatitis C infection in India is through improperly sterilized medical equipment and the re-use of injection needles. It is important for people to know that the hepatitis C virus does not spread by sneezing, hugging or casual contact. The virus also does not spread through food or water, sharing utensils or drinking from the same glass."
About Global Hospitals
Global Hospitals Group, India's most renowned healthcare services provider offering better care, cutting-edge research and advanced education to caregivers, is one of the country's fast growing chains of Multi Super Specialty Tertiary Care Hospitals offering healthcare services of international standards. A 2000-bed Multi Super Specialty Tertiary Care facility spread across Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, Global Hospitals is a pioneer in Multi-Organ Transplants including kidneys, liver, heart and lung.
For more information please contact:
Phalguna Jandhyala, Global Hospitals
Email: [email protected]
Shradha Verma, Edelman India
Email: [email protected]
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