Via The Globe and Mail: B.C. medical researchers offer treatment by prevention for hepatitis C. Excerpt:
Nominator: Julio Montaner is a giant in the world of HIV and AIDS research. Dr. Montaner – director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and past president of the International AIDS Society – pioneered the highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) that has become the international standard of care. Dr. Montaner was last week named to the Order of Canada. He was honoured by the province of B.C. last month.
Innovation: While stressing there is still work to be done when it comes to fighting HIV/AIDS – other provinces have not seen the same progress as B.C., and rates remain high in some First Nations communities – Dr. Montaner said one area he is watching is treatment of hepatitis C.
“I think one of the most exciting developments that is happening is the emergence of new treatment – highly effective, very simple, extremely well tolerated, but unfortunately very expensive – for hepatitis C.”
Mel Krajden, medical head of hepatitis – clinical prevention services at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said between 70,000 and 80,000 British Columbians have hepatitis C, a chronic liver disease.
That is in comparison to the approximately 12,000 believed to have HIV.
Dr. Krajden said in an interview that the new treatment involves a drug regimen lasting eight to 12 weeks.
He said the drugs could have a cure rate of 95 per cent, if not higher, offering hope of eliminating hepatitis C altogether.
A B.C. Ministry of Health spokeswoman said the province is considering whether to cover the hepatitis C treatment, which is known as Sovaldi.
The spokeswoman said the drug costs about $640 a pill, or between $55,000 and $110,000 a patient.
She said B.C. is reviewing the treatment and its benefits, and, with Ontario, is in discussions with the manufacturer to negotiate the best price.