CHI Report – Innovation in Hepatitis C Treatment – Page – 2
Background and Objective
Although the public-health burden of the disease received little public attention for decades, hep C has attracted intense media coverage over the past several months, much of it focused on the pricing of new anti-HCV drugs and the consequent impact on the budgets of public and private payors. Various stakeholders have weighed in on the debate about the prices of these new medicines, how to pay for them, and who should be treated. Although this public dialogue is important, we do not aim to address these questions here.
Rather, we seek to provide a broader understanding of the public-health impact of hep C and to highlight the significance of the breakthroughs that have brought us to a new era of treatment. We believe that the current discussion too often ignores revolutionary discoveries in hep C and their potential to save lives and prevent human suffering. This report is intended to elevate this perspective in the ongoing public debate.
Furthermore, we believe that similar debates will arise in the future as new breakthroughs for other devastating diseases come to market, and we hope that our collective approach to those discussions will include an appreciation for the impact of innovation on human life.
Incidence: The number of new cases of a disease in a population; often expressed as number of new cases per 100,000 population
Prevalence: The percentage of a certain population with a disease
Chronic HCV infection: Established infection with the Hepatitis C virus that cannot be spontaneously cleared without targeted treatment
Genotype: A genetic variant (“form”) of a particular virus; three HCV genotypes are prevalent in the US
Mortality rate: The number of deaths caused by a disease in a population; often expressed as number of deaths per 100,000 population
Morbidity: All human suffering caused by a disease except death
Liver cirrhosis: Scarring of the liver, whereby hard scar tissue replaces soft healthy tissue and progressively renders the liver non-functional
Decompensated cirrhosis: The final, life-threatening stage of cirrhosis in which the liver stops functioning; symptoms include internal bleeding, brain toxicity, and confusion
Cure of HCV: The elimination of HCV from a patient’s body, which significantly lowers the probability of liver disease and other related sickness
Sustained viral response (SVR): A measure of the effective cure rate after drug treatment that signifies the percentage of patients whose blood contains no detectable virus 12 or 24 weeks after the end of treatment
Treatment burden: The number of pills, injections, or both required for a full course of treatment
Interferon: Class of proteins naturally made as part of the immune response that has anti-viral activity; a modified interferon protein, pegylated interferon, has been a key component of Hepatitis C treatment regimens
Ribavirin: A nucleoside inhibitor that has been given in combination with interferon for the treatment of Hepatitis C; nucleoside inhibitors interfere with viral replication