New findings from two modeling studies presented at the International Liver Congress support the call to action from medical experts and patients in relation to the challenge health inequalities represent in the diagnosis and access to HCV treatment.
The first modelling study looks at current treatment practices and available epidemiological data across a number of EU countries (including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK), and shows that based on current practice HCV-related morbidity and mortality (linked to liver cancer deaths) will be reduced by 10% over nine years (2012 -- 2021). In addition, the incidence of cirrhosis will also be reduced by 16%. Both results take into consideration variations across countries in screening, diagnosis and treatment standards.
The study also considered HCV progression if 70% of treatment naive patients and all non-responders and relapsers were treated with a protease inhibitor from 2012 onwards (increasing average SVR to 70% and 60.5% in non-responders and treatment-naive genotype 1 patients respectively). Based on this scenario, findings show that the overall HCV-related mortality would decrease by a further 12% over the same period, corresponding to a relative impact of 117% compared to current practice.
Based on these forecasts, experts conclude that the development and implementation of ambitious policy strategies to ensure effective access to diagnosis and treatment alongside the availability of new therapies (such as proteases inhibitors) could have a major impact in further reducing HCV-related mortality in the future.
A second modelling study looked at French health resource allocation and how this may change with the introduction of triple therapy for non-responders in the near future. In France, the data show the number of patients eligible for treatment (treatment-naive and previous non-responders) will increase two to three folds, which equates to an additional 9,900 to 14,300 patients by 2012.
This demonstrates the need to adjust allocation of health resources at national level to meet this demand.
Mark Thursz, EASL's Vice-Secretary commented: "These types of modelling studies are useful in providing us with data to support our policy efforts with political audiences. We have been saying, alongside patients, that the current challenges to managing viral hepatitis effectively are linked to a wide discrepancy in diagnosis and treatment standards across the different Member States. Now we can build a stronger case when discussing the development of effective health strategies within the EU and at Member State level. The good news is that antiviral treatments are being proven to be effective in substantially reducing HCV-related mortality in Europe. We must strengthen our efforts towards a better identification of carriers needing management and treatment."
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