Tag Archives: BC Ministry of Health

BC Ministry of Health Press Release: More Patients to Benefit from Hepatitis C Treatments

BC Ministry of Health Press Release: More Patients to Benefit from Hepatitis C TreatmentsCopied and Pasted from BC Ministry of Health on February 21, 2017.

Thousands of British Columbians living with hepatitis C will have better access to treatment as a result of successful negotiations brokered by the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA).

“This agreement changes the landscape for hepatitis C patients living in B.C.,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Not only are there four new treatment options for what is now a curable virus, but the savings that were negotiated will allow us to cover treatment options for all hepatitis C patients – rather than just those in more advanced stages of the disease.”

British Columbia and Ontario co-led the negotiations with the drug manufacturers on behalf of the pCPA. The alliance helps provinces and territories leverage their collective buying power and negotiate better prices for new drugs.

The collaborative effort resulted in a significant cost savings to drug plans for participating provinces and territories. The agreement also allows access to treatment for all eligible patients in a fiscally sustainable manner. Prices and terms for this negotiation are confidential.

The list cost to the health system for hepatitis C treatment has ranged from $45,000 to over $100,000 per patient, depending on the drug and disease progression.

Agreements with the pCPA were reached with Gilead Sciences Canada, Merck Canada, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada to provide several hepatitis C drugs at an improved cost:

  • Daklinza (daclatasvir) – new
  • Epclusa (sofosbuvir/velpatasvir) – new
  • Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir)
  • Sovaldi (sofosbuvir)
  • Sunvepra (asunaprevir) – new
  • Zepatier (elbasvir/grazoprevir) – new

PharmaCare is expanding the criteria in March 2017 to provide coverage to more patients living with hepatitis C. Physicians can apply for coverage of the new drugs on behalf of their patients on or around March 21, 2017. Starting in 2018-19, PharmaCare will provide coverage for any British Columbian living with chronic hepatitis C, regardless of the type or severity of their disease.

Up to 75,000 British Columbians are estimated to be living with hepatitis C. Approximately 24% of those exposed to the virus are able to clear it on their own. However, when left untreated, it can cause serious complications such as liver failure and liver cancer. The new modern hepatitis C therapies are highly effective, with the ability to clear the virus at rates over 95%.

If untreated, hepatitis C virus infection can be a life-threatening communicable disease. Risk and harm reduction practices are strongly encouraged for those who may be at higher risk for re-acquiring the virus after successful treatment, including people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and commercial sex workers.

Hepatitis C is the most-frequent cause of premature death among reportable infectious diseases in North America, and has become the most-frequent cause of premature death among people living with both hepatitis C and HIV.

Quick Facts:

  • Hepatitis C is a serious, communicable disease that is spread through direct contact with the blood of a person living with the virus. Symptoms may include fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain and joint pain. In some people, it can cause liver damage (cirrhosis) or liver cancer.
  • Up to 75,000 people are estimated to be living with hepatitis C in British Columbia. However, many people with the virus have no symptoms. About one-quarter of people living with hepatitis C do not know they have it.
  • About one-quarter of people with hepatitis C do not need treatment, as their body fights off the infection.
  • Once someone is successfully treated and cured of hepatitis C infection, they are no longer able to pass the disease on to others.
  • Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection.
  • From March 2015 to December 2016, PharmaCare coverage was provided to about 3,800 people in B.C. for medication used to treat chronic hepatitis C.

Learn More:

For more information on the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance:

For more information about B.C.’s PharmaCare program:

BC gives $5 million to expand hepatitis C efforts

BC gives $5 million to expand hepatitis C effortsApril 21, 2016 – The St. Paul’s Foundation, in collaboration with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCfE), the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the Vancouver Coastal Health, and the University of British Columbia, has been given $5 million for a research study on how to reduce new infections of hepatitis C in BC.

The funding will be used to “help those at increased risk of re-infection with hepatitis C, by focusing on engagement with the health system, and it will help to evaluate the health outcomes with our current treatment regimens,” stated Health Minister Terry Lake at the morning announcement in Vancouver.

The research will focus on “individuals in Vancouver who have been successfully cured of hepatitis C, but who have been identified as at increased risk of re-infection. It will also evaluate the impact and outcomes of current hepatitis C treatments, and identify the next steps required to optimize treatment outcomes in B.C.” (BCCfE)

This hepatitis C research funding announcement was made today by the Health Minister Terry Lake and BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCfE)’s director Dr. Julio Montaner.

At the announcement, Dr. Mel Krajden, medical lead for hepatitis at the BC Centre for Disease Control, pointed out that “By understanding how to optimize treatment outcomes, we can maximize the individual and societal impact of these very promising therapies.” (BCCfE)

Links to More Information about the Announcement

Information from BCCfE’s press release

New BC hepatitis C treatment plans?

New BC hepatitis C treatment plans?In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside yesterday, December 1st, B.C.’s Ministry of Health and Dr. Julio Montaner, Director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, announced that they are looking to expand hepatitis C treatment in BC.

Their planned treatment expansion program, which is still in the discussion phase, will target core transmitters, those who’s lifestyles put them at risk for passing the virus on. The program will then work to treat others, sooner and in increased numbers, as treatment costs decrease.

Terry Lake, B.C.’s Minister of Health, stated Monday that “As we expand treatment and as the cost of those drugs come down, we will reach further upstream and treat more people, and treat them earlier.”

See the full Vancouver Sun article here.

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


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