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Have hep C? Treatment and re-treatment now available!

Anyone feeling freer these days?

Could it be from the fact that even if your liver is healthy you can now access hep C treatment through PharmaCare in BC.

Yay!!!

That’s not all!!  The first pan-genotypic treatment (treats all hep C genotypes)  – VOSEVI – is now approved and listed with BC PharmaCare.   VOSEVI treats people with or without cirrhosis and those who have tried treatment in past and either couldn’t complete due to side effects or who didn’t get cured.

Here’s the BC Government official announcement from last week. 

And, we’ve update the hep C treatment page.

Still, if you find yourself searching for hep C help,  you need good information and somewhere to ask your questions. 

Let us help you find answers. Call toll-free: 1-888-411-7578

Your call is completely confidential.

Leave us a message if we don’t answer OR email to help4hepbc@pacifichepc.org to set up a time to talk. 

Technivie Now Approved for Use

TechnivieTechnivie (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir) with ribavirin  is now an approved hepatitis C treatment in Canada!

Health Canada has granted the treatment Technivie with ribavirin a Notice of Compliance (NOC) for treating adult patients with chronic hep C genotype 4 without cirrhosis and who have never tried treatment or who have previously been treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

A Notice of Compliance

Receiving a Notice of Compliance allows a treatment to be sold in Canada with official approval. If a drug has a Notice of Compliance a doctor may prescribe it – but at this stage the new drug combination is still not available on public drug plans, like BC PharmaCare. Private insurers each decide company coverage of the new drug (i.e. what percentage of the drug costs they will cover).

For more information about Technivie (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir), or any other new and emerging hep C drug, please visit PHCN’s Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project or email.

Summer in Review

sq_homeAs the Labour Day long weekend has come and gone and we look ahead to cooler seasons, the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the news that you may have missed this summer. For example:

July 15
Health Minister Rona Ambrose wrote a letter calling for the provinces and territories to co-operate with the federal government to help cut the cost of prescription drugs. The link to a CBC article about it is here.

July 17-18
Vancouver hosted the 2nd International HIV/Viral Hepatitis Co-infection Meeting. The meeting focused on treatment and treatment access. It was attended by representatives involved with medical research, treatment advocacy, NGOs, and AIDS service organizations. Glenn Betteridge and Barbara Santosuosso, of CTAC, wrote about the meeting’s highlights and “take-home” points, which included a caution against rushing to treat HIV/HCV co-infection, a need for price reductions/generic products and global treatment access, and the similarities between the HIV and HCV, hep C, epidemics.

In addition, clinical trial results for the treatment Daklinza/Sovaldi were presented. The presented trial included 147 people with hep C genotypes 1, 3 and 4 with advanced fibrosis, cirrhosis, or who had received a liver transplant. 97% achieved SVR 12 weeks after treatment. The researchers working on this trial concluded that increasing treatment time or adding ribavirin wouldn’t have increased chances of achieving SVR.

July 27
The Government of Canada announced a $4.5 million investment into a new national network working to improve the health of Canadians with hep C and to prevent new infections. This network, the National Collaborative Hepatitis C Network, will be made up of more than 60 researchers, health professionals, and partners from across Canada.

August 11
During 2014-2015, CATIE surveyed 326 Canadians living with hep C and assessed their needs. On August 11th, the survey’s findings were published in a report entitled ‘Room for improvement: Knowledge exchange needs of people living with hepatitis C. Some findings reported were:

  • Most survey participants were committed to their hep C care;
  • 46% had never tried hep C treatment, but of those who had tried treatment, more treatments were successful than unsuccessful (22% vs 16%);
  • 80% of survey takers reported that they didn’t know “a lot” about hep C treatments.
Some Summer News from within the Canadian Drug Approval Process

Tips for Surviving Side Effects

Tips for Side EffectsThe new hepatitis C treatments come with high hopes and expectations, but they also sometimes come with side effects. The following is a list of the most common side effects related to hep C treatment and links to resources that may help overcome them. However, your best resource on this topic will always be your healthcare provider.

Common Side Effects of Hepatitis C Treatments

Common Side Effect Possible Remedies to Try
Constipation / Abnormal need for Water Drink more water and clear liquid, eat more juicy fruits, and engage in light exercise.
Diarrhea Eat the B.R.A.T. diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast). Avoid breads, greasy food, raw fruits and vegetables, and dairy. Make sure you stay hydrated. Look out for signs of dehydration, such as dark urine, headaches, dry skin, fast heart rate, irritably or confusion. Seek help if the diarrhea lasts for more than 2 days or you have bloody or black poop, fever, or bad stomach pain.
Headache Drink more liquid. Avoid caffeine and sodas, bright lights, strong odors, and loud noises. Possibly relax with acupuncture, massages, light exercise, meditation, a cold cloth on your forehead or the back of your neck, and/or lay in a dark room. Talk to your healthcare provider about pain killers.
Insomnia / Inability to Sleep Create a calming bedroom and bedtime routine. Avoid activity or stress before bedtime. Record your sleeping issues and talk to your healthcare provider.
Itchiness / Skin Rashes Drink lots of water and use skin lotion and sunblock. Try baths with oatmeal, baking soda, or bath oils. Avoid overly hot showers/baths.
Mood Changes Record your moods and talk with your healthcare provider, seek out a support group or someone to talk to, and exercise daily.
Nausea / Vomiting Avoid deep-fried, greasy, or spicy food. Eat food high in starches and carbohydrates. Snack often instead of only eating two or three meals. Cut and smell lemon slices. Drink clear liquids, such as ginger ale or sports drinks. Drinking liquid in tiny sips may help. Apply heat or ice packs to aches.
Taste Changes Use non-metallic cookware and cutlery, eat room temperature food, rinse your mouth with salt water before eating.
Tiredness / Fatigue Exercise and rest regularly.

See Comparing Treatments for more information about what hep C treatments may cause what side effects.

Informational Resources with Side Effect Survival Tips

Recent Blog Posts about Hepatitis C Treatment Side Effects

Side effects can sometimes be scary, but it’s always best to begin treatment knowing what side effects may come and that others have gone through them before you and know survival tips.

PharmaCare Covers Holkira Pak

Holkira Pak and BC PharmaCareVancouver, B.C. – (July 28th, 2015) – On World Hepatitis Day, Pacific Hepatitis C Network (PHCN) welcomed the B.C. Ministry of Health’s announcement that it will provide coverage for a new hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment, Holkira Pak.

The hepatitis C virus is considered one of the most serious public health issues facing Canadians, causing more years of life lost than any other infectious disease in the country. In B.C. alone, for example, there are about 80,000 people currently living with hepatitis C.

Therefore, “the Pacific Hepatitis C Network applauds the addition of new treatments like Holkira Pak to the PharmaCare formulary here in B.C.,” said Daryl Luster, president of the board of the Pacific Hepatitis C Network. “I can say with great certainty that lives will be saved, and the quality of life for thousands of people living with hepatitis C, and their families will be impacted in the most positive of ways due to this action by the Government of British Columbia.”

Holkira Pak is a treatment for patients with chronic genotype 1 hep C, including those with cirrhosis. It is an all-pill, short-course, interferon-free treatment that can be taken with or without ribavirin.

In Phase 3 clinical trials, Holkira Pak (with or without ribavirin) cured an overall 97% of genotype 1 hep C patients, and 98% of patients completed treatment. In Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, the overall rates of treatment discontinuation due to adverse reactions were low (0.2%).

Holkira Pak is the third new hepatitis C drug to be covered by BC’s PharmaCare this year. The other two treatments covered were Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and Harvoni (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir).

For more information about Holkira Pak, please visit PHCN’s Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project or email.

The B.C. Ministry of Health’s Holkira Pak Press Release can be found at: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2015HLTH0053-001186

Holkira Pak

New Viral Load Testing and Genotyping Recommendations

Viral Load Testing and Genotyping RecommendationsThe BC Centre for Disease Control’s New Viral Load Testing and Genotyping Recommendations

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has published new viral load testing recommendations for those taking one of the following hep C treatments:

BCCDC Recommends Viral Load Tests be Done:
  • No more than 6 months before starting treatment
  • Right after treatment
  • 12 weeks after treatment
  • 24 weeks after treatment
BCCDC Viral Load Testing Recommendations for those taking Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin are:
  • No more than 6 months before starting treatment
  • Week 4 of treatment for those with hep C genotype 2
  • Week 4 and 12 of treatment for those with hep C genotype 3
  • Week 12 after treatment to confirm a cure
  • Week 24 after treatment to confirm a cure
BCCDC Hep C Genotyping Recommendations
  • Prior genotyping results for those with genotypes 2 – 6 should be considered valid
  • Patients with genotype 1 hep C should be retested before treatment. This is because genotyping done before May 2012 did not discriminate between genotypes 1a and 1b well enough.
  • When considering Galexos (simeprevir) for treatment, a Q80K resistance test is needed
  • Genotype testing should be done before retreating
BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) provides provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides both direct diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities.

For more information about hep C treatments please visit PHCN’s Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project or email.

BC’s PharmaCare lists Harvoni and Sovaldi!

Galexos Sovaldi pictureWhat follows is PHCN‘s press release regarding the BC Ministry of Health offering Harvoni and Sovaldi, but we want to also say WOW!!!  To everyone who has been waiting so long and so patiently for this day – CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Stay tuned for continuing updates on other new drugs in the pipeline.

Here is PHCN’s press release:

Pacific Hepatitis C Network Welcomes Decision to Provide Access to New Therapies

 

B.C. Ministry of Health to offer two new hepatitis C virus drugs to eligible patients

Vancouver, B.C. – (March 23th, 2015) – Pacific Hepatitis C Network (PHCN) today welcomed the B.C. Ministry of Health’s announcement that it will provide access to two new hepatitis C virus (HCV) therapies, Harvoni and Sovaldi. HCV is considered one of the most serious public health issues facing Canadians, causing more years of life lost than any other infectious disease in the country.

“We are thrilled that these new therapies are now available to eligible patients,” says Daryl Luster, President of PHCN. “As a network and voice for those living with hepatitis C in British Columbia, these new treatments are a huge leap forward and will greatly change the outcome for those living with, and affected by, hep C.”

Harvoni and Sovaldi are two new therapies that, along with multiple other provinces in Canada, will be available to eligible patients in B.C. as of March 24th. Harvoni is a substantial step forward in HCV treatment because it is a highly curative, low-side effect therapy that is simple to take and is both ribavirin and interferon-free.

“In contrast with therapies used until now, this breakthrough hep C treatment has a cure rate of close to 100 per cent, with few or no side effects, as well as a shortened treatment cycle and is ribavirin-free,” says Daryl Luster. “The B.C. Government should be congratulated for taking this significant step forward that will help to eliminate hepatitis C in a generation.”

Often heralded as a “silent epidemic” because of its few or asymptomatic characteristics, HCV seriously affects the liver and can be difficult to treat. In fact, many Canadians living with HCV are unaware of their infection, primarily within the baby boomer demographic, which highlights the importance of implementing hep C screening processes across the nation.

Equally important as the availability of these new treatments and intensive hep C screening processes are monitoring, counseling and engaging with care to help prevent high numbers of HCV patients requiring intensive health care for advanced liver disease.

About the Pacific Hepatitis C Network

The Pacific Hepatitis C Network (PHCN) is a non-profit community-based organization that was founded in March 2007. PCHN is a voice for those living with hep C and works as an advocacy group to bring together people living with, affected by and at-risk for the hep C infection, including people living with hepatitis C, health care providers, community-based service providers and community and government stakeholders. PCHN works alongside individuals, groups and organizations in efforts to strengthen our collective response to hepatitis C in BC. For more information please visit: http://ww.pacifichepc.org/, the Pacific Hepatitis C Network, or http://www.hepctip.ca/, PHCN’s Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project.

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For more information or interview requests, please contact:

Deb Schmitz

Pacific Hepatitis C Network

deb@pacifichepc.org

604 740 1092

Here is the link to the Minister’s announcement:  http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2015/03/bc-covers-two-curative-hepatitis-c-drugs.html