Health: Hepatitis C - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:21 am on 28th April 2016.

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Photo of Lord Patel Lord Patel Crossbench 11:21 am, 28th April 2016

My Lords, an estimated 220,000 individuals in the United Kingdom are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus. Deaths among the under-60s from end-stage liver disease and liver cancers due to the virus have doubled over the last decade. We have in the interferon-free treatment a drug that is effective in successfully treating the disease, as it reduces the viral load in 98% of patients treated to virtually zero in the whole spectrum of genome of hepatitis C virus. Therefore, it is an effective preventive drug for developing end-stage disease. It has the potential to eradicate the disease in the population. In that scenario, why would we treat only 10,000 patients per year, as the guidance says, for the next two years and not treat every patient who is a chronic carrier of hepatitis C virus?