SATURDAY, April 16, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Low-cost generic antiviral drugs are as effective and safe as more expensive brand-name drugs in treating people with hepatitis C, researchers report.

In many countries, people don’t have access to a course of brand-name direct-acting antiviral drugs due to the high cost — as much as $94,000 a patient, the researchers explained.

However, mass-produced generic versions are available for less than 1 percent of the retail price of the brand-name drugs, they added.

“Our interim data suggests a potential solution for hepatitis C patients in areas where treatment access has been restricted as a result of the high prices demanded for branded treatment,” said study author Dr. James Freeman, of GP2U Telehealth in Hobart, Australia.

The study of patients in the United States, Canada, Africa, Australia, Europe and Southeast Asia found that generic direct-acting antiviral drugs sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), ledipasvir, daclatasvir (Daklinza) and ribavirin (Rebetol) were as effective as brand-name versions.

The study was to be presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) in Barcelona. Until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary.

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