Hepatitis C and Access to Pegylated Interferon
A lifesaving treatment is being denied to the world’s poor through global pricing that targets only the wealthy. A drug called pegylated interferon can cure Hepatitis C (HCV), but at a price of over $20,000 a year, only very few of the world’s 150 million people living with HCV can afford access.
Kiev, March 28 2009 - Eurasian Harm Reduction Network and Open Society Institute hosted a meeting for healthcare advocates to improve access to HCV treatment in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Attendees discussed ways to increase access to pegylated interferon, including compulsory licenses.
The draft proposal urges member states to take a number of steps to fight Hepatits, including the adoption of national legislation to use flexibilities in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to "promote access to specific pharmaceutical products."
Citing experience with people dying of HCV because they could not afford medications, several Indian NGOs called for India to support the Brazilian proposal on hepatitis at the 62nd World Health Assembly. In their letter, the NGOs called for use of TRIPS flexibilities to increase access to HCV medicine.
Mumbai, May 18 2007 - In hopes that generic competition could lower prices for a much-needed drug, Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust filed a post-grant opposition to Roche's patent for the hepatitis-C drug peg-interferon a2a, marketed as Pegasys. Pegasys is only available from Roche at Rs 2.25 lakh (over $11,000 per year). In April 2009, the post-grant opposition was rejected by the Indian Patent Office.
Click here for information on the hepatitis c virus and pegylated interferon including background on the virus from the World Health Organization, resources for those living with HCV, and treatment protocols.
Image of HCV from the New South Wales Department of Health. Image of Mohyla University by Silin2005. Image of interferon chrystals from suncana.