Hepatitis C Cost-Effective Treatment – Egypt May Serve As a Blueprint

If we talk about the country that has been hit most by hepatitis C virus, it is Egypt. According to a raw analysis, over 6 million people in Egypt had received hepatitis C virus from contaminated needles in a decade. Now, about 10 percent of Egyptians, about 9 million people, have active hepatitis C infection in their bodies.

If we look at the facts, hepatitis C is basically a global crisis. This chronic problem has infected over 150 million people worldwide and it is the cause of 500,000 deaths per annum.

The alarming fact about Hepatitis C is that its virus is a buoyant one. After getting into a body due to blood contact, it may not show any symptom for years. The good thing is that it can be cured easily during early stages but when it becomes chronic, it starts damaging liver slowly and consistently.

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Despite the fact that Egypt has the biggest number of hepatitis C patients, the medical departments there have started working on a very systematic approach to deal with this issue. The health ministry of Egypt had developed a plan in year 2007 and since then, two drugs namely interferon and ribavirin are being used for treating hepatitis C.

While these two drugs often cause a wide range of side effects, a California based pharmaceutical company, named Gilead Sciences, proposed an alternative. Gilead Sciences is the manufacturer of sofosbovir which is also known as Sovaldi. This medicine is available in United States at the price of $1000 per pill which the patient needs to take every day. The medication with this drug is a 12-week long course which most likely cures the disease.

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Gilead Sciences is now selling this drug to Egyptian government at the price of $10 per pill. The government distributes medicine to pharmacies which further supply it to patients for free. With the supply of Sovaldi at this cheap price, Gilead Sciences has asked the Egyptian government to enforce strict rules in order to avoid the sale of this drug in black market. Patients are directed to return old bottles in order to get new ones. Moreover, the patients are asked to open the new bottle in front of distributer and take a pill just to ensure that bottle cannot be resold.

Although there are some complications with the cheap sale of Sovaldi and then the strict imposition of rules for patients, there is nothing that authorities can do because it’s a long awaited and much anticipated solution.