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Friday, January 13, 2017

News Recap

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This last week has seen some pretty sad news for Canadians with Hep C.  As you know, the Past Economic Loss and Dependents (PELD) Fund of the Pre-1986/Post-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement has a shortfall – with more than $65 million in unpaid claims.

On December 15, 2016, a joint hearing was held in Toronto before the judges of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec to discuss the status of the Compensation Fund, now that the final deadline to submit claims has passed.  The judges have ordered that any surplus remaining in the main Compensation Fund will be transferred to the PELD fund for unpaid claims.  Although this is a positive result, it will not be enough to pay the full amounts for outstanding claims.  We project it will only be about 20% of what is needed in the PELD.  Read more here: January 2017 Hepatitis C Update: Past Economic Loss/Dependent (PELD) Fund

Meanwhile in the news (Great Coverage!) is the story of Nikky Davies, who contracted the virus through tainted blood she was administered in a Victoria, BC hospital in 1978.  Because she is too sick to work and is on disability assistance, Davies applied to B.C.’s Pharmacare program to cover the cost. But she has been refused treatment by the BC government because basically they can’t afford it! Let’s hope Nikky and others get some JUSTICE quick! (B.C. won’t cover hepatitis C drug that’s possible cure for woman infected with tainted blood)

Other News
One way around the funding problem (cost of DAA treatment) is to come up with an HCV vaccine. Using a recently developed model system, researchers at the University of Plymouth in the UK are trying to develop and evaluate new HCV vaccination strategies with a view to developing durable and effective vaccines and immune-therapeutics for HCV suitable for all populations. (U.K.: Funding for development of new strategies to treat and prevent Hepatitis C virus)

Also from England is a news item about a mobile unit in Yorkshire that offers free testing and Fibroscans!  Boy could we use a few of these in BC. Yes, but then we’d have to treat the newly diagnosed and so we’re back to square one!  Big Boo! (Unit helps South Yorkshire hepatitis C sufferers get crucial diagnosis and reduce risk of life-threatening liver damage)

A study in the US showed that black and Hispanic patients with hepatitis C virus infection were less likely to achieve sustained virologic response with direct-acting antiviral agents compared with white patients. Further, black patients with HCV genotype 1 infection who were treated with Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir, Gilead) monotherapy were significantly less likely to achieve SVR compared with white patients when treated for 8 weeks, but not 12 weeks, leading investigators to suggest that these short ledipasvir/sofosbuvir regimens be avoided in black patients. (Black, Hispanic HCV patients more likely to fail DAA therapy)

In another study, patients with hepatitis C virus infection who received an antiviral drug around the time they underwent liver transplantation saw a high rate of sustained virologic response, according to a Northwestern Medicine phase II clinical trial. The finding suggests that the therapy might be an effective approach to preventing reinfection in such patients for those with HCV who undergo liver transplantation.  Well yes, but who can afford it? (Antiviral Drug Prevents Recurrence of Hepatitis C in Liver Transplant Patients)

Finally, Oakridge Centre Mall in Vancouver gave HepCBC a remarkable gift, seven straight days of a hepatitis C information booth, January 1 – 7, 2017. Sandwiched in a high-traffic area between the fragrant temptations of St. Germaine’s Bakery and Murchie’s Teas, and using the Generation Hep banners, we were able to attract a broad spectrum of people who wanted to know why we said they were in Generation Hep, and they usually left with a pamphlet or two and a promise to ask their doctor for an HCV screening test at their next exam. Check out the slide show and see the team in action! (Vancouver’s Info Booth at Oakridge Centre Mall)