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World Health Organization Recommends Global Use of Newest Hepatitis C Drugs, Urges Price Reductions

April 10, 2014

This article was reported by NAM aidsmap.

NAM aidsmap reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently released new hepatitis C treatment guidelines. The guidelines call for global usage of Gilead's new drug, Sovaldi, while encouraging a price reduction of the $84,000-per-treatment medication. The drug must be used in combination with other medication, depending on genotype.

Gilead recently negotiated a price reduction of Sovaldi with Egypt to provide the drug at a price of $1,200 per 12-week course. It currently is seeking voluntary licenses to allow pharmaceutical companies in India to produce and distribute Sovaldi to 60 counties in Africa and Asia for $2,000-per-treatment-course. "I hope these guidelines will help to promote a reduction in price and thereby an increase in access," said Stefan Wiktor, head of the WHO hepatitis program. WHO completed its guidelines before Gilead negotiated pricing in countries outside the United States.

The guidelines also urge anyone in a high-risk group to be tested for hepatitis C, as well as people with a prior exposure risk. It is estimated that 150-180 million people worldwide have hepatitis C, with the majority in Asia and Africa. Testing and treatment remain low due to cost.

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