Public Release:  Importance of policy action to help reduce HCV-related deaths across Europe by 2025

Current health inequalities could limit results

European Association for the Study of the Liver

New findings from two modeling studies presented at the International Liver Congress support the call to action from medical experts and patients in relation to the challenge health inequalities represent in the diagnosis and access to HCV treatment.

The first modelling study looks at current treatment practices and available epidemiological data across a number of EU countries (including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK), and shows that based on current practice HCV-related morbidity and mortality (linked to liver cancer deaths) will be reduced by 10% over nine years (2012 - 2021). In addition, the incidence of cirrhosis will also be reduced by 16%. Both results take into consideration variations across countries in screening, diagnosis and treatment standards.

The study also considered HCV progression if 70% of treatment naive patients and all non-responders and relapsers were treated with a protease inhibitor from 2012 onwards (increasing average SVR to 70% and 60.5% in non-responders and treatment-naive genotype 1 patients respectively). Based on this scenario, findings show that the overall HCV-related mortality would decrease by a further 12% over the same period, corresponding to a relative impact of 117% compared to current practice.

Based on these forecasts, experts conclude that the development and implementation of ambitious policy strategies to ensure effective access to diagnosis and treatment alongside the availability of new therapies (such as proteases inhibitors) could have a major impact in further reducing HCV-related mortality in the future.

A second modelling study looked at French health resource allocation and how this may change with the introduction of triple therapy for non-responders in the near future. In France, the data show the number of patients eligible for treatment (treatment-naive and previous non-responders) will increase two to three folds, which equates to an additional 9,900 to 14,300 patients by 2012.

This demonstrates the need to adjust allocation of health resources at national level to meet this demand.

Mark Thursz, EASL's Vice-Secretary commented: "These types of modelling studies are useful in providing us with data to support our policy efforts with political audiences. We have been saying, alongside patients, that the current challenges to managing viral hepatitis effectively are linked to a wide discrepancy in diagnosis and treatment standards across the different Member States. Now we can build a stronger case when discussing the development of effective health strategies within the EU and at Member State level. The good news is that antiviral treatments are being proven to be effective in substantially reducing HCV-related mortality in Europe. We must strengthen our efforts towards a better identification of carriers needing management and treatment."

HCV is a major cause of acute hepatitis and chronic liver disease. Globally, an estimated 130� million people are chronically infected with HCV and 3𔃂 million are newly infected each year.

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Notes to Editors

About EASL

EASL is the leading European scientific society involved in promoting research and education in hepatology. EASL attracts the foremost hepatology experts and has an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education and promoting changes in European liver policy.

EASL's main focus on education and research is delivered through numerous events and initiatives, including:

  • The International Liver CongressTM which is the main scientific and professional event in hepatology worldwide
  • Meetings including Monothematic and Special conferences, Post Graduate courses and other endorsed meetings that take place throughout the year
  • Clinical and Basic Schools of Hepatology, a series of events covering different aspects in the field of hepatology
  • Journal of Hepatology published monthly
  • Participation in a number of policy initiatives at European level

About The International Liver CongressTM 2011

The International Liver Congress™ 2011, the 46th annual meeting of the European Association for the study of the Liver, is being held at the Internationales Congress Centrum, Berlin, Germany from March 30 - April 3, 2011. The congress annually attracts over 7,500 clinicians and scientists from around the world and provides an opportunity to hear the latest research, perspectives and treatments of liver disease from principal experts in the field.

References

1. Deuffic-Burban S et al. HCV burden in Europe: Impact of national treatment practices on future HCV-related morbidity and mortality through a modelling approach. Abstract presented at the International Liver CongressTM 2011

2. Deuffic-Burban S et al. The availability of direct acting antivirals in 2012: A French model-based analysis of the increased number of patients treated for chronic HCV infection. Abstract presented at the International Liver CongressTM 2011

3. WHO Europe. Hepatitis C facts and figures. http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/diseases-and-conditions/hepatitis/facts-and-figures/hepatitis-c. Accessed 08 March 2011

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