NHS England could be the first country in the world to eliminate Hepatitis C, under ambitious plans announced by the NHS back in January this year.
NHS leaders have called on the pharmaceutical industry to work with them to provide best value for money for treatments so that the NHS can commit to eliminating Hepatitis C in England at least five years earlier than the World Health Organisation goal of 2030. The most recent figures show that Hepatitis C is affecting 160,000 people in England and therefore is a significant public health issue.
‘It is critical that NHS England consult with all relevant HCV stakeholders as it develops its elimination strategy and not just pharma’
The NHS has invested in Hepatitis C treatment each year as new treatments became available to improve outcomes for people with the virus but doctors, patient groups and NHS leaders believe it is possible to go further and is encouraging pharma companies to work with them to meet this more ambitious target.
Where are we at?
Over 25,000 patients have already been treated to date and this number is expected to rise to 30,000 later this year, prioritising the sickest patients first.
The creation of 22 ‘operational delivery networks’ in each area in England is driving improvements in treatment in local areas, ensuring all patients can access the treatment they need, regardless of where they live. This will enable improvements in areas with historically low service provision.
David Rowlands, Leicester Operational Delivery Network said: ‘Many of the of operational networks are increasingly finding it harder to engage with patients to come forward for testing, treatment & care of hepatitis C. As a minimum, we need to work together to develop community outreach clinics to find people who are not yet engaged and understand better how to achieve this.
Part of the new agreements between NHS England and drug companies will involve collaboration to identify more people who are living with Hepatitis C who need to be treated. Experts have predicted that this approach, combined with the NHS sustaining the same level of investment and the best new treatments being used could undoubtedly lead to Hepatitis C being eradicated as a major public health concern in the very near future.
England is one of few countries in Europe where numbers of patients receiving new oral treatments for Hepatitis C are already increasing year on year, enabled by deals previously agreed with industry. The deals, including ‘pay per cure’ where the NHS only pays when a patient is cured and a focus on prioritising the sickest patients, have led to a 10% reduction in the number of deaths and the numbers of patients needing a liver transplant have reduced by 50%.
Professor Graham Foster, National Clinical Chair for Hepatitis C, NHS England, said: “The progress made in the treatment of Hepatitis C has transformed the lives of many of my patients and has been made possible by NHS England working closely with industry to bring prices down and expand treatment options. Yet we have the opportunity to do so much more. Over the last seven decades, the NHS has been at the forefront of medical innovation – to be able to commit to a world first in the year of the NHS’ 70th anniversary would be another remarkable and truly historic achievement.”
Peter Huskinson, National Commercial Director, NHS England, said: “The NHS has made major headway in the last three years in the treatment of Hepatitis C, which has enabled a once in a generation opportunity to eliminate a major disease. With the right response from pharma companies in the coming months, we can strike the most competitive deal possible – improving the future for patients with Hep C alongside securing the best value for money for taxpayers.”
Charles Gore, CEO of The Hepatitis C Trust, the national Hepatitis C charity, said: “This is wonderful news. It is exactly what is needed. The proposed deal will galvanise the action we must take to find all those living with Hepatitis C who have not yet been diagnosed so that we can cure them. It will prevent the liver cancer that Hepatitis C causes. It will save lives. In the current environment we applaud NHS England’s ambition to be a world leader.”
New report ‘Eliminating Hepatitis C in England’
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Liver Health have launced a report 'Eliminating hepatitis C in england' which outlines the findings from an inquiry conducted by the APPG in late 2017 into the elimination of hepatitis C in England.
Three oral evidence sessions were held, featuring a range of expert stakeholders answering questions from APPG members, and written evidence was received from a range of individuals and organisations. Based on this evidence, the report will also make a series of recommendations for further action to ensure England meets its commitment to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030 at the latest.
How do you think NHS England are going to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2025?
Source of information www.englandnhs.uk