New Delhi: FIND, a global non-profit organization, has joined hands with Cipla to improve the availability of diagnostic and treatment systems for Hepatitis C in the interiors of India. According to data available approximately 12 million Indians are threatened by this viral blood infection,that often leads to liver diseases like Cirrhosis or Cancer and ultimately death.
The focal points of the FIND, Cipla partnership include improvement of Hepaptitis C virus diagnosis, sensitivity and scaling up of viral infection treatments.
UNITAID, a global health initiative working under the umbrella of UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), is planning to sign a grant agreement with FIND. Its objective being to provide both diagnostic access and treatment for Hepatitis in eight countries, including India.The sum of grant, which is being negotiated with FIND, would be worth several million dollars, according to Lelio Marmora, Executive Director of UNITAID
A FIND statement on the UNITAID project stated that it would work towards obtaining regulatory approvals for the new, simplified and high-quality HCV diagnostic tests, tie ups for preferential pricing agreements with test suppliers, and incorporation of new HCV tests in existing HIV programmes. This, the statement added would be done with the objective to begin scaling up access to HCV diagnosis and treatment, among the most vulnerable populations.
It has been found that more and more patients infected with HIV are coming down with Hepatitis C infections . Talking to Business Line, Lelio Marmora, highlighted that of those infected with HIV many were dying due to Hepatitis C, instead of the former. ‘This makes it imperative to make Hepatitis C treatment more accessible,’ he added.
Cipla’s generic tablets for the treatment of Hepatitis C was launched in 2015 and costed a fraction of the price of existing medicines. The Cipla drug, Hepcvir-L, which is the generic version of Gilead Science Inc’s Harvoni tablets, is priced at Rs. 25,000 a bottle, containing 28 tablets. A twelve week course of the medication amounts to Rs, 75,000 . Gilead’s Haryoni a more expensive version is priced at over $75,000 or $50,00,000 for the entire treatment.
In 2014 Cipla along with 5 other Indian companies had signed a licensing pact with Gilead to manufacture the drug’s generic version. Denis Broun, Head of Government Affairs at Cipla, said, “As prices (of the treatment) keep decreasing, several states have started financing the treatment of Hepatitis C, so that it can be made available to low-income patients.”
Talking to the Hindu, Broun clarified that the prevailing diagnostic tests were neither economical nor fast, given the fact that they happen to be a two-step process. According to FIND estimates it takes over $100 (over ₹6,500) to diagnose a single case today.
Both the companies are trying to resolve the process, price issue also.