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Hepatitis C patients seek access to better drugs: survey

By Liu Zhihua ( chinadaily.com.cn ) Updated: 2016-01-22 16:18:29

The question of access to "direct-acting antivirals", or DAAs, which can cure at least 95 percent of hepatitis C cases is one of the main issues highlighted in a survey released by Wu Jieping Medical Foundation on Jan 20.

The two-month survey conducted in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb, a global biopharma company, covered 600 hepatitis C patients from 14 provinces in a bid to understand the patients' treatment needs.

Zhuang Hui, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering from Peking University Medical Sciences, says that accelerating the process of approval for DAAs in China is currently the central issue for the prevention and control of the disease.

Zhuang says he is also concerned that many Chinese patients are choosing to go to overseas for DAA-based treatment or to obtain DAAs through Internet channels.

Current standard treatment for hepatitis C in China is pegylated-interferon in combination with ribavirin (P/R).

About 80 percent of patients surveyed say they have experienced significant side effects during P/R treatment, while 41 percent of patients say they don't think that they can complete the treatment due to the side effects.

The survey also shows that 97 percent of the patients want a better treatment option.

Duan Zhongping, vice-president of Peking You'an Hospital and president of the Chinese Society of Hepatology, says that the success rate for the P/R regimen is between 44 and 70 percent, but the treatment is fraught with serious side effects and often takes a long time.

Meanwhile, the number of hepatitis C patients in China ranges from 13 to 44 million, among the highest in the world.

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