Welcome to HCV Advocate’s hepatitis blog. The intent of this blog is to keep our website audience up-to-date on information about hepatitis and to answer some of our web site and training audience questions. People are encouraged to submit questions and post comments.

For more information on how to use this blog, the HCV drug pipeline, and for more information on HCV clinical trials
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Be sure to check out our other blogs: The HBV Advocate Blog and Hepatitis & Tattoos.

Alan Franciscus


HCV Advocate

Monday, November 9, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Diabetes Thought to Increase Risk for Hepatic Cancer

A retroactive study presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting for the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) suggests that diabetes increases the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form of liver cancer. The disease generally occurs secondary to hepatitis C infection or in cirrhosis from other causes.

The study authors used data from MarketScan, which is a database for insurance claims of all kinds. They found 7,473 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. The authors also included 22,110 controls matched for comorbidities, age, sex, and gender, leading to a 1-to-3 ratio of subjects to controls for 99% of the case subjects. The patients included in the case group had hepatocellular carcinoma with hepatitis C with DM, without DM, and DM alone. The study also looked at the impact of metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.


HIV, Hepatitis C outbreak continues in Indiana

BATESVILLE, IN (FOX19) - It's been months since the story about southeastern Indiana’s HIV epidemic went national and now, the state is still trying to bounce back from what Governor Pence called 'the worst outbreak in state history.' The outbreak is stemming from the widespread heroin problem in the region.

On Thursday, FOX19 NOW spoke with a doctor in Batesville, Indiana who told us if users don't get tested for HIV soon, the problem is only going to get worse.

The heroin crisis in Indiana has caused an explosion of not only HIV cases but Hepatitis C cases in the area as well.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION GUIDANCE WILL INCREASE ACCESS TO HEPATITIS C CURE DRUGS Urges State Medicaid Programs to Lift Restrictions for the Nation’s Most Vulnerable

National Policy Office - Washington, DC: 202-835-8373
Program and Administrative Office - Tampa, FL: 813-258-5929

For Immediate Release: 11.05.15   

Media Contact: Carl Schmid: (202) 669-8267 cschmid@theaidsinstitute.org
Urges State Medicaid Programs to Lift Restrictions for the Nation’s Most Vulnerable  
Washington, DC – The AIDS Institute praises the Obama Administration for their letter sent today to State Medicaid Directors that suggests states lift their onerous restrictions that have prevented people living with hepatitis C access to medications that can cure them.  “Denying drugs that can cure people of a deadly infectious disease is just bad public health policy. This announcement demonstrates that Medicaid beneficiaries with hepatitis C, who represent some of the Nation’s most vulnerable, deserve access to a cost-effective cure just like anyone else,” commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.
The AIDS Institute, a national public policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring people living with HIV and hepatitis have access to quality and affordable health care, along with others, have urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to take this corrective action.  Most state Medicaid programs have instituted barriers to accessing hepatitis C cure drugs by limiting them to only individuals with advanced liver disease.  States have also used a number of other restrictions which have no scientific basis such as limits on who can obtain and prescribe the drugs. In one recent study, 46 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries were denied access to hepatitis C drugs. 
Medicaid is a joint federal-state funded program.  States must cover all medications produced by pharmaceutical manufactures that participate in the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program.  While states may be putting the hepatitis C drugs on their formularies, many are making it extremely difficult for patients in need of the drugs to access them. Today’s announcement makes it clear that this is wrong and states need to remove restrictions that have no clinical or scientific basis. 
Nationwide, an estimated 3.2 million people are living with hepatitis C; however, up to 75 percent have not yet been diagnosed.  There are approximately 20,000 deaths attributed to hepatitis C annually in the U.S. and it is the leading cause of costly liver cancer and liver transplants. 
Clinical experts at the American Association for the Study for Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) have recently updated their guidance on the treatment of hepatitis C virus.  They have concluded that treatment would benefit nearly all of those who are chronically infected and the goal should be to treat all patients as promptly as feasible to improve their health and to reduce HCV transmission.
Since many Medicaid beneficiaries are now being served by Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), the directive announced today makes it clear that MCOs cannot impose restrictions on patient access that are more restrictive than the state’s fee-for-service program.  In some states, Medicaid MCOs have instituted even far wider restrictions than the state run programs.
“Now, we call on all state Medicaid programs to remove patient barriers to hepatitis C treatment that the federal government has called to be eliminated,” said Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.  “In the long run, it will save the health care system billions of dollars, save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and help eradicate a deadly infectious disease.” 
# # #

The AIDS Institute is a bipartisan, national nonprofit organization that promotes action for social change through public policy, research, advocacy and education.

For more information and to become involved, visit www.TheAIDSInstitute.org or write to us at Info@theaidsinstitute.org, and follow The AIDS Institute on Twitter @AIDSAdvocacy and Facebook at www.facebook.com/The-AIDS-Institute.

Carl Schmid
Deputy Executive Director
The AIDS Institute
Washington DC


International Advisory Group Assesses Hepatitis C Elimination Program

A conference of international advisers has been held in the frames of the Hepatitis C Elimination Program of Georgia. The international partners will support and carry out consultations for implementing long-term strategies in monitoring, prevention and controlling systems.

The International Advisory Group, whose members are the heads of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory and Hopkins Universities, World Health Organization and other international partners, attended the conference. They aim to encourage development of Hepatitis C elimination and also to increase public awareness.

The results of the Hepatitis C Elimination Program and its current conditions were discussed. According to the Ministry of Healthcare, 130-150 million people suffer from Hepatitis C and, in the WHO’s criteria, Georgia is considered as a high-prevalence country

Read more....

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Syringe Design Not Particularly Effective at Curbing Spread of Hepatitis C Virus

As many as 21 million people worldwide inject drugs, putting them at heightened risk for infection from blood-borne pathogens such as the hepatitis C virus (HCV), especially if syringes are shared.

A newer type of syringe designed to reduce HCV transmission by decreasing the so-called dead space—the volume that exists between the syringe hub and needle in comparison to standard and widely used high dead space designs—is not particularly effective, a new Yale School of Public Health-led study has found.

The research is published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hepatitis C patients who use drugs need multidisciplinary treatment: B.C. study

Treating patients with hepatitis C who inject illegal drugs using only medication is ineffective without also addressing the complex social issues they face, finds a new study from the University of Victoria.

Although new hepatitis C drugs can cure the liver-wasting disease in most patients, new research suggests the treatment does little to help patients who inject drugs, some of society’s most vulnerable citizens who are also the most challenging to help.

“There’s quite a bit of attention to medical advances (in hepatitis C treatment), but it doesn’t really impact the people most affected (by hepatitis C),” said Bruce Wallace, co-author of the study and an assistant professor at UVic’s School of Social Work. “People are being excluded from access to treatment and it is the people who need it the most.

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Advocates work on stigma, treatment of hepatitis C

Like many hepatitis C patients, Anthony Lo Russo, 64, lived with the virus for years before he knew he had it. Even after a routine blood test flagged it in 1995, he eschewed hep C drugs because of their side effects. “I felt fine, so I waited,” Lo Russo said.

After the 2013 introduction of kinder drugs, Lo Russo agreed to a standard 16-week treatment. Two weeks into it, he heard the word that’s music to hep C patients’ ears; his blood was “clear” of hep C. He was cured.

“I’m happy to be alive,” said Lo Russo, of Lake Worth, Fla. He bowls in three leagues, swims and chats with fellow patients on Facebook.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Primrose Healthcare Provides an Innovative Calculator Tool, Giving Insight into the Costs of Hepatitis C beyond Anti-Virals First-in-industry tool for payers

PHOENIX--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Primrose Healthcare has just launched an innovative calculator tool to help health insurers and other payers uncover and better understand the total costs associated with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) within their populations. The calculator references the data and analysis from the Milliman, Inc. study, “The burden of hepatitis C virus disease in commercial and managed Medicaid populations,” and other user-input assumptions to estimate costs for a payer’s specific population.

While many payers may concentrate on managing anti-viral medication treatment costs, they may not closely focus on the underlying medical cost drivers within the population. The calculator analysis provides payers with a complete picture of typical non-antiviral treatment costs, including prevalence and key cost drivers such as stage of liver disease (i.e. chronic HCV, cirrhosis, etc.), other non-antiviral medication treatment costs and medical costs.

“Calculator analyses run to date clearly show that new medication treatments are not the only reason for high costs among the HCV populations,” said Henri Cournand, CEO of Primrose Healthcare. “Payers focused on medication costs alone are missing out on a valuable opportunity to improve health and reduce per-member-per-month costs related to managing these patients. This really comes to light when you consider that the average annual incremental non-antiviral drug medical costs for an individual with HCV are $21,888—four times higher than those without HCV.

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