Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a progressive disease that infects more than 185 million individuals worldwide and is associated with persistence of viral replication and ongoing necroinflammation and fibrosis. To date 20% of patients chronically infected with HCV progress to cirrhosis. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that the incidence of HCV is not well known, because acute infection is generally asymptomatic. The global prevalence is about 2.2% and there is a large degree of geographic variability. Before the 2011, the gold standard of therapy for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) was based on the combination of pegylated Interferon (peg-IFN) and Ribavirin (RBV). However, several aspects related to safety profile limited their use in clinical practice. In the recent years, thanks to basic research on HCV structure and replicative cycle, it has been possible to develop direct acting antiviral drugs that have dramatically increased the viral clearance rate. Specifically, the advent of the triple therapy employing direct acting antivirals has dramatically increased the viral clearance rate, from less than 10%, with the initial regimen of IFN monotherapy, to more than 95% with the current therapy. Even though new medications for hepatitis C are effective disease modifiers and have the potential, in a long term perspective, to eradicate the pathology, the cost of new treatments are unlikely to be sustainable for the NHSs. The evidence documenting the effectiveness and tolerability of the new therapies for HCV and several pharmacoeconomic analysis, shows that despite the cost, the new treatments can be considered cost-effective in the long period. However, the health care systems are unable to compensate the height financial resources immediately needed for treating patients with the long terms savings that will be obtained from the eradication of HCV. Indeed, new pharmaceutical policy and a global commitment is required to improve strategies of treatment and price negotiation with pharmaceutical companies to move from a theoretical cost-effectiveness approach to a practical cost-sustainable reality.
Part of the book: Recent Advances in Liver Diseases and Surgery