Hepatitis C Treatment: WHO Advocates for Accessibility
In an attempt to overcome the high costs of Hepatitis C treatment, the World Health Organization (WHO) has added the latest HCV regimens to its essential medicines list. Without lowering the cost of hep-C drugs, the WHO fears that the curative regimens may not be accessible to the majority of people struggling with the virus worldwide. The WHO’s Model List of Essential Medicines is updated every two years and is being increasingly used by institutions and governments to develop their own essential medicine lists. The most recent version of WHO’s list was released in the beginning of May 2015 and included the emphasis on hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is present in both high-income and lower-income nations. Affecting more than 150 million people worldwide, the majority of people struggling with HCV live in Third-World countries. Unfortunately, these countries lack the resources needed to cover healthcare costs and provide HCV treatment. The World Health Organization’s focus on hep-C treatment is also an attempt to democratize healthcare across the world.
The drug still remains very expensive in the United States, preventing many people from obtaining access to it. With one pill of Gilead’s Sovaldi costing $1,000 in the United States, many people are unable to receive the necessary treatment. Insurance companies are reluctant to cover the full cost of the treatment, leaving many Americans unable to afford the treatment regimen. Gilead has cut the cost of treatment in several Third-World countries, but more needs to be done in order to ensure global access to the drug.
Treatments for hep-C continue to evolve rapidly, with several new, safe, effective ones on the market currently, and many still being developed. While science is doing its part to create effective treatment regimens for HCV, we need some strategies to make hepatitis c treatment more affordable and accessible worldwide.