The elimination of hepatitis C in Spain requires collaboration and the implementation of comprehensive diagnostic strategies, according to the meeting organized by Gilead Sciences “Work on viral hepatitis: current situation and comprehensive and opportunistic diagnosis”.
Since the implementation of the “Strategic plan to access Hepatitis C”, more than 161,000 patients have been treated in Spain with rates of around 95% of treatment, which shows that efforts have been made to reform the lives of these patients and the situation in the country. reported in this field. In fact, Spain could become the second country to eliminate hepatitis C in the world, after Iceland.
Despite efforts, there are still more than 76,500 people with HCV in the general population, of which 22,500 have active HCV infection and are undiagnosed. For this, it is necessary to take advantage of all the opportunities available to patients, including initiatives aimed at improving their prevention, early detection, treatment and comprehensive management. This was one of the main conclusions drawn by the experts who attended the meeting.
Dr. Manuel Romero, head of the digestive section of the University Hospital of the Virgin del Rocío, was proud of what has been achieved in this field, but he called for a further effort to leave no patient behind and to achieve the goal of eliminating WHO. “We have lost patients in the emergency department, even in primary care or outside the system, to which we have to add those who are part of the vulnerable population, such as the homeless. It is more difficult for all these people to find them and therefore it is a great challenge to identify them, since today the rarest patient is cared for it is also taken care of”, he explained.
All the participants highlighted the reversal that the advent of new direct-acting antivirals made possible the approach to reversing this infection. Dr. José Luis Calleja, president of the Spanish Association for Liver Studies (AEEH), indicated that “in 2015, hepatitis C was the main cause of cancer, cirrhosis, liver transplantation… The advent of treatments for this virus has generated a transformation of liver care. Not only has it allowed patients to be cured, but also generated significant savings for the health system by reducing transplants, liver complications, etc.
In addition, he highlighted the immense income generated from these treatments, which allowed significant savings for the health system. In this sense, a recent study was cited which showed that, during the years 2015-2019 in Spain, Gilad DAA treatments significantly reduced mortality from liver causes (-82%), liver complications (- 89% decompensation. cirrhosis, -77% hepatocellular carcinomas, -84% liver transplantation), as well as the cost associated with the management of these complications (reported -770 million) over the life of the patients. Thus, savings of 274 million dollars were generated for the National Health System (SNS).
Doctor Calleja mentioned that there are six Regional Plans for the Elimination of Hepatitis C in Spain with different scope and focus, but with the common objective of diagnosing new cases of patients using the SNS. In this sense, it meant achieving an opportunistic diagnosis in certain patient profiles (in the emergency room, pre-emergence…), and carrying out a comprehensive diagnosis of viral hepatitis; optimize screening and diagnostic processes through automation and computerized tools; or to promote access in vulnerable populations or in more dangerous situations, they provide policies that provide the desired outcome and in which they need to continue to flow.
On this matter Dr. Javier Crespo, head of the digestive service at Marqués de Valdecilla Hospital, recalled that the elimination of HCV requires using all diagnostic opportunities, such as age screening or emergency services and/or PC or where possible to reach a rapid and comprehensive diagnosis of chronic viral hepatitis due to a single analytical extraction and thus promoting access to effective treatment. “In case of suspicion of any virus (HCV, HBV, HDV or HIV) it is necessary to test all the others. In this way, we use the diagnosis in one consultation and one extraction, which makes everything more efficient and guarantees the result”, he pointed out.
During the presentation, Marta Velázquez, director of Gilead’s liver disease business unit, emphasized that Gilead has played and continues to play a fundamental role in changing the course of HCV and will continue to work with everyone involved until it reaches a consensus. total elimination through initiatives that oversee the diagnosis and treatment of all patients. This year, the company celebrates two decades of innovation in viral hepatitis since, in 2003, it celebrated its journey with the first treatment for HBV. As of 2014, Gilead has a portfolio of antiviral treatments to treat hepatitis C, and more than 4 million people around the world have received these treatments and 100,000 in Spain.
Aware of the need to continue to cooperate with public administrations, scientific societies and health associations, to eliminate hepatitis C, Marta Velázquez indicated that she feels “very proud of the agreements and collaborations that we have developed with all those who are interested, scientific societies. patients and health professionals, so that the lives of patients in this We have been working on it for a long time, and we will continue to do so until we achieve the long-awaited elimination.
In Spain, Gilead has developed an ambitious project that supports innovative projects both within the hospital and in different health centers, with the aim of continuing the diagnosis and bringing back all infected patients. Always aligned with the recommendations of scientific societies and with these initiatives to help regional elimination strategies and professionals in their objective of achieving disease elimination. Thus, among these projects, it is worth highlighting the Gilad Scholarships for Microelimination projects in hepatitis C which, together with AEEH, has just released its 5th distribution of 15 projects; o The Detect-C project in collaboration with Socidrogalcohol, through which diagnostic kits are provided to those centers that serve vulnerable populations that request it to facilitate the diagnosis of these patients.