NICE approval of new hepatitis drug could result in £700m bill for NHS

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 21 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5554
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved another treatment for hepatitis C, presenting NHS England with a dilemma over how to pay for it.1

NICE has now approved three new treatments as cost effective: daclatasvir (Daklinza, Bristol-Myers Squibb); ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni, Gilead Sciences); and ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir with or without dasabuvir (Viekirax with or without Exviera, AbbVie).

All are more effective than previous treatments for hepatitis C, but they are expensive. To make them affordable for the NHS, NHS England has announced a scheme to pay for the drugs for 3500 people who have developed cirrhosis of the liver as a result of hepatitis C infection. This is a small fraction of the estimated 160 000 people in England with the virus.

Fewer than half of these people are aware that they are infected, and …

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