[Ip-health] MSF intervention on hepatitis - WHO EB

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Tue Jan 21 09:10:09 PST 2014

MSF intervention on hepatitis - 134th WHO Executive Board: Agenda item 10.5
Preparedness, surveillance and response: Hepatitis


New oral treatments set to become available in coming months will
revolutionize hepatitis C treatment.  These open the door to pan-genotypic,
well-tolerated regimens with high cure rates and radically shorter
treatment duration.

Treatment simplification, decentralisation, task-shifting and scale up of
hepatitis C should now be possible in low and middle income countries.
However, for government programmes to be able to scale up and address the
true burden of the epidemic, new oral treatments must be affordable.
Research has shown that these drugs could– potentially cost less than $500
for a package of diagnosis and treatment.

Similarly, the treatment scenario for hepatitis B could drastically change
through increased screening and securing quality-assured affordable sources
of existing drugs like tenofovir and entecavir.

While the viral hepatitis resolution includes some of these points, MSF
feels it should be strengthened in the following ways:
• Member States should be urged to implement hepatitis B birth-dose
• Price-reducing generic competition should be stressed as a key
intervention to ensure access to revolutionary treatments for hepatitis C.
Language that supports use of the public health flexibilities to secure
generic competition should be protected. Patent monopolies should not
restrict treatment to only those who can afford to pay.
• WHO should be urged to include hepatitis C drugs in the Prequalification
• Funders such as the Global Fund, UNITAID and PEPFAR should include
hepatitis B and C treatment and care as part of their funding priorities.

Although the HIV/AIDS experience shows that civil society pressure plays a
vital role, ultimately it is the political will of governments to take
measures to protect public health that will lead to affordable treatment.
Given these unprecedented opportunities to address viral hepatitis, MSF
urges the WHO Executive Board not to miss this key opportunity to turn the
tide of viral hepatitis.

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: @joanna_keenan


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