Tag Archives: Epclusa

PHCN’s Statement about the Successful Negotiations for 3 New Hepatitis C Treatments

PHCN's Statement about the Successful Negotiations for 3 New Hepatitis C Treatments‘No One Left Behind!’

Pacific Hepatitis C Network (PHCN) is very happy to learn that effective March 21, an extensive list of hepatitis C treatments will be available through BC PharmaCare – at far better prices than they previously had been. The high cost of hepatitis C treatment has effectively restricted the numbers of people living with hepatitis C who could access treatment.

Even with lower prices, those restrictions will remain in place until next year. Come March 2018, those restrictions (requiring a liver fibrosis stage of F2 or greater) will be lifted and hepatitis C treatment will be available to any person living with hepatitis C in BC, “regardless of the type and severity of their disease”.

The Province, via the Ministry of Health, co-led the negotiations for new, affordable prices and we at PHCN are both proud of that fact and sincerely grateful. We hope the same for new, hep C drugs that are currently in development and that improve even more on cure rates, tolerability, length of treatment, and treating more than one HCV genotype.

And with these new developments, our work continues! Now is the time to identify and address the barriers still in place that keep those living with hep C from accessing care and treatment: low levels of primary care provider awareness of hep C and treatments; believes about who deserves treatment and who doesn’t; patient education and outreach to those who were diagnosed years ago but are not engaged in care for their hep C. Stigma can and does underlay many of those barriers and must be addressed.

PHCN applauds the ushering in of the first critical step by BC’s Ministry of Health and we urge continued vigilance and collective planning and action to ensure ’No One Left Behind!’ when it comes to hepatitis C care and treatment in BC.

More information can be found here.

Successful Negotiations for Three New Hepatitis C Treatments

Successful Negotiations for Three New Hepatitis C TreatmentsDirectly copied statement from the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance

TORONTO, Feb. 21, 2017 /CNW/ – On behalf of participating federal, provincial and territorial public drug plans, the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) has concluded successful negotiations with three drug manufacturers to help jurisdictions expand access to publicly funded medications for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a communicable liver disease that is caused by an infection with the hepatitis C virus. Seventy-five per cent of people who have contracted hepatitis C cannot spontaneously clear the virus. This leads to chronic hepatitis C infection. Although many of the estimated 250,000 infected Canadians may have no symptoms for decades, if left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can lead to serious complications such as liver failure and liver cancer.

Just a few years ago, hepatitis C patients took a combination of pills and injections for almost a year and these earlier drugs had lower rates of treatment success. Today’s newer therapies are more effective, available in oral form and require substantially shorter durations of treatment.

These benefits, however, come at a substantial cost. Depending on the drug and disease progression, the list cost for hepatitis C treatments ranged from $45,000 to over $100,000 per patient. Although these costs were made more affordable with previous agreements, the funding of hepatitis C treatments has resulted in significant cost pressures.

Recently, multiple products have become available, creating a more competitive environment for hepatitis C treatment price negotiations.

The pCPA’s approach to hepatitis C treatment negotiations was guided by the following:

  • goal of providing treatment for patients regardless of genotype and disease severity
  • financial affordability and sustainability
  • a fair approach in negotiating value among multiple drugs and manufacturers.

Gilead Sciences Canada, Merck Canada, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada were able to reach an agreement through the pCPA to provide hepatitis C drugs at an improved cost. These agreements will help increase publicly funded access for most patients with hepatitis C.

As with all pCPA drug negotiations, individual participating jurisdictions will be responsible for implementing changes under their respective public drug plans.

SOURCE Pan Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA)

For further information: For more information (media): David Jensen, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, 416-314-6197

Our Top 2016 Hepatitis C Treatment Posts as Clicked by You

Our top 2016 hepatitis C treatment posts as clicked by you are as follows:

Our Top 2016 Hepatitis C Treatment Posts as Clicked by YouThe Top 5 Blog Posts Read in 2016

The Top 5 Facebook Posts that Received the Most Reactions/Clicks in 2016

The Subjects of the Top 5 Tweets Posted in 2016

The Top Email Subjects Received by the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project in 2016

  • I am thinking about starting treatment and am wondering if you can answer the following questions?
  • I am thinking about starting treatment and am wondering about BC PharmaCare’s liver fibrosis stage F2 or greater treatment eligibility cut off.

May 2017 be a year just as full of exciting hep C headlines and developments as 2016 was. Happy New Year from all of us at the Pacific Hepatitis C Network!

The Pacific Hepatitis C Network‘s News in Review Newsletter

The Pacific Hepatitis C Network‘s News in Review NewsletterWelcome to the Pacific Hepatitis C Network (PHCN)‘s very first hepatitis C news in review newsletter. This is where we review all of the major issues and events around hepatitis C and hep C treatments. It is an email that includes links to all of our recent blog posts—including the blog post about the big news surrounding the hep C treatment Epclusa (generic name: sofosbuvir/velpatasvir).

EPCLUSA RECOMMENDED BY CADTH

Epclusa (generic name: sofosbuvir/velpatasvir), developed by Gilead Sciences Canada, Inc., just passed its Common Drug Review with the release of the Canadian Drug Expert Committee (CDEC) Final Recommendation. Click here to read more about their recommendation sent to the provinces and territories to help them decide on whether or not to cover the treatment and how to cover it.

HEPATITIS C ADVOCACY HIGHLIGHTS

In October, Daryl Luster wrote two blog posts for the Pacific Hepatitis C Network. Daryl is a hep C advocate who is PHCN’s president, a member of the Executive Steering Committee for Action Hepatitis Canada (AHC), a counselor for the Help-4-Hep helpline, and the administrator of multiple peer support groups. In 2010, Daryl was cured of hep C while participating in a clinical trial. The two blog posts he wrote were:

DAAs: Long Term Effects
AHC BC Regional Meeting: October 18-19

HEP C ABSTRACT HIGHLIGHTS TO BE PRESENTED AT THE LIVER MEETING 2016

The Liver Meeting 2016, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)‘s 67th annual meeting, will be held in a week. Last year’s meeting drew more than 9,500 international hepatologists and hepatology health professionals to San Francisco to discuss the latest treatments and research for liver diseases. This year, Boston, Massachusetts, will be hosting the meeting and, as always, the meeting promises to be exciting.

To celebrate the meeting and all of the amazing discoveries that will be presented, the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project wrote the following blog posts summarizing and highlighting some of what will be presented about hep C treatments:

The Liver Meeting 2016 Hep C Abstract Highlights (Part1)
The Liver Meeting 2016 Hep C Abstract Highlights (Part2)
Live Stream Sessions from The Liver Meeting 2016

THE BASICS SERIES

The Basics Series by the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project is a series of blog posts about the very basics about hep C and hep C treatments. So far, the series has five issues, entitled the following:

For more information about the topics in this newsletter, please click on the links, visit PHCN’s Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project, or email us.

Epclusa Recommended by CADTH Canadian Drug Expert Committee If

Epclusa Recommended by CADTH Canadian Drug Expert Committee IfEpclusa (generic name: sofosbuvir/velpatasvir), developed by Gilead Sciences Canada, Inc., just passed its Common Drug Review with the release of the Canadian Drug Expert Committee (CDEC) Final Recommendation for it.

Within the Canadian drug approval process, Health Canada first evaluates a drug’s safety, clinical effectiveness, and its manufacturing process. After which, a Common Drug Review (CDR) by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) compares the drug’s clinical and cost-effectiveness to those of other treatments. This recommendations report is then sent to the provinces and territories to help them decide on coverage.

The Canadian Drug Expert Committee’s Final Recommendation Advocates for Epclusa to be Reimbursed as a Treatment for Chronic Hepatitis C if the Following Conditions are Met:
Criterion:
  • Treatment should be started by physicians experienced managing patients w chronic hep C.
Conditions:
  • Reduced price.
The Canadian Drug Expert Committee’s Reasons for their Epclusa Recommendations
  1. Very good SVR/cure rates seen for all genotypes and among treatment-naive and patients who have already, unsuccessfully, tried treatment. The ASTRAL-1, ASTRAL-2, ASTRAL-3, and ASTRAL-4 clinical trials showed that treatment with Epclusa achieved high rates of SVR12 (cure at 12 weeks) for all types of hep C patients, including those who have been considered hard to treat.
  2. “There is insufficient evidence that the new treatment is superior
    to the least costly alternative.”
  3. “The true incremental cost-effectiveness of SOF/VEL versus other interferon (IFN)-free regimens is uncertain in the various patient populations considered.”
Other Noted Discussion Points
  • “The drug plan cost of treatment with the drug under review should not exceed the drug plan cost of treatment with the least costly alternative interferon-free option.”
Reported Research Gaps

Research should look into the following as a high priority:

  • Patients who were activity using drugs and co-infected with HIV or hepatitis B were excluded from the trials submitted to this review.
  • Resistance-associated variants (RAVs) should be examined more as they may influence future coverage criteria.

Epclusa

Epclusa (generic name sofosbuvir / velpatasvir) is the first pan-genotypic hepatitis C treatment, treatment for all 6 hep C virus types, to be approved for use in Canada against all 6 hep C virus types.

Epclusa is made up of 2 direct-acting antivirals, sofosbuvir and velpatasvir. Sofosbuvir is a nucleotide NS5B polymerase inhibitor that directly targets the hep C virus to stop it from making copies of itself in the liver. They attach themselves onto the genetic information, called RNA, to block the virus from multiplying.  Velpatasvir is a NS5A inhibitor that blocks a virus protein, NS5A, that the virus needs for reproducing and various stages of infection.

For more information about Epclusa, CADTH, or any other new and emerging hep C drug, please visit PHCN’s Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project or email.

“We can now cure the majority of HCV-infected patients with a simple, safe and effective 12-week treatment, regardless of genotype or treatment history.” ~Dr. Jordan Feld

Pan-Genotypic Hepatitis C Treatments: The Basics

Pan-Genotypic Hepatitis C Treatments: The BasicsHepatitis C Genotypes

Based on its genetic (RNA) makeup, the hepatitis C virus has different types/variations/strains. These types are referred to as genotypes.

There are six common hep C genotypes, with several different subtypes, identified throughout the world. The most common hep C genotype in Canada is known as the hepatitis C virus genotype 1 (HCV GT1 or just GT1).

A person can become infected with more than one of these genotypes, so prevention (following the basic rules for staying healthy) and harm reduction are always important. Knowing one’s hep C genotype is also important as it affects the type of treatment prescribed, the treatment’s duration, and the treatment’s success.

Hepatitis C Genotypes and Hep C Treatment

The type of hep C infection one has doesn’t determine how bad their hep C symptoms may be. For example, having genotype 1 hep C doesn’t mean that a person will experience less hep C symptoms than someone with genotype 2 hep C. However, hep C genotypes do effect a treatment’s possible success and its side effects. Therefore, each hep C genotype has its own treatments and set of treatment lengths that work best against it.

Pan-Genotypic Hepatitis C Treatments

However, there are now pan-genotypic hep C treatments in the Canadian approval process that are able to treat all virus genotypes. These new treatments are important as they have the power to make hep C treatment much easier than it is now. As Dr. Jordan Feld, a liver specialist at Toronto Western Hospital, explained, a treatment that can be used for every virus type “…eliminates the need for [virus type/genotype] testing, which often delayed treatment and can be difficult to access for those living in rural or remote regions of the country….” (Ubelacker, The Canadian Press)

Possible Pan-Genotypic Hepatitis C Treatments in Development or the Approval Process

Treatments*
Epclusa (sofosbuvir / velpatasvir)
Glecaprevir / Pibrentasvir
Sofosbuvir / Velpatasvir + Voxilaprevir
AL-335 + Odalasvir (ACHN-3102) + Simeprevir
*An additional name for the drug glecaprevir is ABT-493. An additional name for pibrentasvir is ABT-530. An additional name for voxilaprevir is GS-9857. Epclusa is the only one so far to be approved for use in Canada.

Interesting Online Articles and Resources

Have you been treated for hepatitis C? If so, your input is requested.

Have you been treated for hepatitis C? If so, your input is requested.If you have been treated for hepatitis C, please click here and answer a few very quick and easy questions about your treatment experience.

This survey will close September 9th, 2016.

Epclusa (generic name sofosbuvir / velpatasvir) is being considered for BC PharmaCare coverage. One of the questions BC PharmaCare asks patient groups is:

“What drugs or other treatments have the patients in your group used, or are currently using, for the condition or disease for which this drug is used? Please list all of the treatments used and tell us about the experience of the patients in your group with each treatment.”

In hopes of answering this question well, the Pacific Hepatitis C Network has put together a very quick and easy survey for those of you who have taken treatment for hepatitis C, any treatment for hep C. Please consider completing our survey.

Please Note: Survey responses are anonymous (we don’t know your name or other information about you). The information gathered will be used as part of a patient group input report for BC PharmaCare. By completing the survey you accept that the Pacific Hepatitis C Network can use the information gathered by it in our patient group input report for BC PharmaCare.

Please email the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project with any comments or concerns you have about Epclusa, the drug approval process, or about this survey.

Epclusa is under review. Send a message to BC PharmaCare.

Epclusa is under review. Send a message to BC PharmaCare.BC PharmaCare Review Questionnaires for Epclusa (Once on the page, scroll down until you see a colourful table. Links to questionnaires for Epclusa input are at the very bottom of the page/colourful table.)

Epclusa (generic name sofosbuvir / velpatasvir) is being considered for BC PharmaCare coverage. As part of this process, hep C patients, caregivers, and patient groups in BC have the opportunity to share their opinions and perspectives about hepatitis C treatments and Epclusa with the decision makers.

If you are interested in grabbing this opportunity, the link above will take you to the questionnaires. The above link will also take you to BC PharmaCare’s Epclusa Information sheet and to information about BC PharmaCare’s approval process.

The questionnaires will ONLY remain open until Wednesday, September 21, AT MIDNIGHT

Adding Your Voice to the BC PharmaCare Coverage Review for Epclusa

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you are encouraged to give your input:

Epclusa

Epclusa is the first pan-genotypic hepatitis C treatment* to be approved for use in Canada against all six hep C virus types. It is a short-course (12 weeks), interferon-free, hepatitis C treatment that can be prescribed with or without ribavirin. It is one pill taken once a day. With or without ribavirin, it cured 83-98% of patients in clinical trials, and cured 94% of those with moderate to severe liver cirrhosis.

The Importance of Epclusa

Epclusa, the first hep C pan-genotypic treatment, is important as it has the power to make hep C treatment much easier than it is now. As Dr. Jordan Feld, a liver specialist at Toronto Western Hospital, explained, a treatment that can be used for every virus type “…eliminates the need for [virus type/genotype] testing, which often delayed treatment and can be difficult to access for those living in rural or remote regions of the country….” (Ubelacker, The Canadian Press)

Also, Epclusa is the first treatment for patients with a hep C genotype 2 or 3 infection that doesn’t need ribavirin to achieve best treatment results.

More Information about Epclusa

For even more information, please contact BC PharmaCare’s Your Voice or the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project.

Take the time to voice your opinion and help advocate for a better tomorrow!

*A pan-genotypic treatment is a treatment able to cure all six of the hep C virus types with high success rates against all six.

Is Epclusa soon-to-be considered for BC PharmaCare coverage?

Epclusa soon-to-be considered for BC PharmaCare coverage?YES. The Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project just received an advance notification from BC’s Ministry of Health that the hepatitis C treatment Epclusa (generic name sofosbuvir / velpatasvir) will soon be considered for BC PharmaCare coverage.

Wednesday August 24, 2016 to MIDNIGHT ON Wednesday September 21, 2016 is tentatively when input will be sought.

Submitting Input to BC PharmaCare about Hepatitis C Treatments and Epclusa

The BC PharmaCare approval process seeks input from patients and caregivers or loved ones of those who have or have had hepatitis C. If you are a BC resident and answer YES to any of the following questions, you can complete a questionnaire and send BC PharmaCare your input into whether or not they should cover Epclusa:

  1. Do you have hep C?
  2. Are you a caregiver to someone who has hep C?
  3. Does your patient group represent patients who have hep C AND have you registered with PharmaCare to give input? (Learn more about registering your organization).

Please note that PharmaCare’s questionnaire for Epclusa input wont tentatively be available for another two weeks. The Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project will send the questionnaire’s link out when BC PharmaCare makes it available.

Epclusa

Epclusa is the first pan-genotypic hepatitis C treatment to be approved for use in Canada against all six hep C virus types. A pan-genotypic treatment is a treatment able to cure all six of the hep C virus types with high success rates against all six.

More Information about Epclusa

For more information, please contact Your Voice or the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project.

Epclusa: An Information Sheet for an Approved Treatment

Epclusa: An Information SheetEpclusa (generic name sofosbuvir / velpatasvir) is the first pan-genotypic hepatitis C treatment* to be approved for use in Canada against all six hep C virus types! In celebration, the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project has put together the following Epclusa information sheet.

Epclusa (PDF)

Treatment Description: Epclusa is a short-course, interferon-free, hepatitis C treatment. It is one pill taken once a day and can be prescribed with or without ribavirin.

Targeted Genotypes1-6

Doses and Treatment Lengths:

  • 12 weeks of the once-daily pill Epclusa for patients without liver cirrhosis and patients with compensated liver cirrhosis
  • 12 weeks of the once-daily pill Epclusa and ribavirin for patients with more serious liver cirrhosis

Possible Side Effects when Taken Without Ribavirin:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue (Tiredness)

Possible Side Effects when Taken With Ribavirin:

Fatigue (Tiredness) Anemia Nausea Headache
Insomnia (Can’t sleep) Diarrhea

Usage Warning: Patients with Bradycardia taking amiodarone can not take Epclusa. There have been reports of severe bradycardia (slow heart rate) or heart block (problems with conduction of electrical signals in the heart). Don’t take rifampin, St. John’s wort, or carbamazepine while taking Epclusa.

Clinical Trial Results for Epclusa

Clinical Trial Patients Treatment Regimen SVR
ASTRAL-1, ASTRAL-2, ASTRAL-3 1,035 with hep C genotypes 1-6 with or without cirrhosis (Child-Pugh A) EPCLUSA (12 weeks) 98%
ASTRAL-4 267 patients with genotype 1-6 hep C infection, with decompensated cirrhosis (Child-Pugh B) EPCLUSA with Ribavirin (12 weeks) 94%
EPCLUSA without Ribavirin (12 or 24 weeks) 83% or 86%

Momentum Support Program

Epclusa has been added to Gilead Canada’s Momentum Support Program. This support program provides information to patients and healthcare providers to help patients access Epclusa and Gilead’s other hepatitis C treatments. In Canada, please call 1-855-447-7977 for more information.

More Information

“We can now cure the majority of HCV-infected patients with a simple, safe and effective 12-week treatment, regardless of genotype or treatment history.” ~Dr. Jordan Feld

*A pan-genotypic treatment is a treatment able to cure all six of the hep C virus types with high success rates against all six.