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
click here

Be sure to check out our other blogs: The HBV Advocate Blog and Hepatitis & Tattoos.

Alan Franciscus


HCV Advocate

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

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.

Read more....

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.

Read more....

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Up to 4,800 patients potentiall exposed to hepatitis C at Ogden hospital

OGDEN — Up to 4,800 people may have been exposed to hepatitis C by a now-fired nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital between June 2013 and November 2014, according to the Standard Examiner.

Per information released by the hospital Friday, 49-year-old nurse Elet Neilson (also known as Elet Hamblin), of Layton, was released in November 2014 after her admission of diverting emergency department drugs intended for patients, the Examiner reports. Neilson and a patient treated in the emergency department were both infected with the same hepatitis genotype, the Utah Department of Health reported, and the infections could be connected.

Due to concerns of exposure to the virus, letters to 4,800 people who may have been in contact with either individual were sent out Friday, the Examiner reports. It was unclear who infected whom or the method by which the infection took place, a hospital spokesman said, and officials are unsure if the disease has spread further.

Read more....

Medicaid officials want to expand access to pricey hepatitis C drug

Health care officials in Washington state thought thousands of Medicaid patients would line up to receive a breakthrough hepatitis C treatment that went on the market late last year.

Yet by June, the state had treated only a third as many hepatitis C patients as it had planned for — about 1,200 people.

Now, the state’s Medicaid authority wants to use the $44 million it didn’t spend over the past year to start covering the drug for a wider range of patients, instead of just the sickest ones.

State officials estimate about 75,000 to 100,000 people in Washington have hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause liver failure or liver cancer if left untreated. Nationwide, many people living with the disease are low-income patients who are eligible for Medicaid, officials said.

Read more....

Tattoos drawing attention

Note:  the article discusses the risk of tattoos and hepatitis C, but as this articles points out that it is a transmission route in unsafe settings--NOT in commercial settings were safety is being carefully followed.

Tattooing, once a fringe, minority pursuit, is going mainstream in Dunedin, local tattoo artists say, with everyone from law students to nurses inking their skin.

But, the council says as legitimate operations flourish, there has been a spike in tattooing of the underground, backyard variety, too.

There were eight registered tattoo studios in Dunedin, but many more illegal operators were working out of private homes, with no training, risky hygiene practices and cheap tools and ink, Dunedin City Council Environmental Health and Animal Services manager Ros MacGill said.


Visit our Tattoo Blog HERE

Cherokee Nation Working to Eliminate Hepatitis C

The Cherokee Nation is on a mission to eliminate Hepatitis C, which officials call an epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest increase in Hepatitis C incidence from 2000 to 2013 was among Native Americans.

Dr. Jorge Mera oversees Cherokee Nation Health Services’ infectious diseases division. He said the first step is screening everyone age 20–69 for Hepatitis C, even though two out of three Americans with the disease were born between 1945 and 1965.


Study suggests unprecedented 3-week hepatitis C cure

Yet another stunning victory in the drug battle against the liver-damaging hepatitis C virus (HCV) may be in the offing: A small study suggests it may be possible to cure some people of their infections in as few as 3 weeks.

Fresh on the heels of recent approvals of four new combinations of HCV drugs that clear infections of many different types of the virus in about 3 months, a team led by hepatologist George Lau of the Humanity & Healthy GI and Liver Centre in Hong Kong, China, has mixed and matched various compounds to see whether they could further shorten the route to a cure. Following 3 weeks of treatment, 18 HCV infected people given three different combinations of drugs met the standard definition of being cured—at 12 weeks after treatment began, they had no signs of HCV’s genetic material, RNA, in their blood on standard tests. The researchers plan to present this data publicly for the first time at a scientific conference known as The Liver Meeting in 2 weeks.

Until the new HCV drugs emerged, infected people required treatment for 8 months, and the therapies often failed and had severe side effects. Now, standard treatment protocol calls for taking HCV drugs for just 12 weeks. Cutting that treatment time even more dramatically is “really, really intriguing” says Shyam Kottilil, an HCV researcher at the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore, Maryland. And if the results hold, it could slash the overall treatment cost of $100,000 required by the most popular drugs used for the 12-week treatment. Kottilil’s own study of a 4-week treatment—which tested different drug combinations on a different patient population—had only a 40% cure rate in the 50 participants. (That study is in press at Annals of Internal Medicine.)

Read more....