In India or Egypt for anti-hepatitis C super cures, "journeys of hope" are growing

In India o Egitto per super cure anti-epatite C, crescono i 'viaggi della speranza'They are willing to travel to India or Egypt in order to obtain a drug capable of curing them of hepatitis C. The phenomenon of patients 'hunting' for anti-HCV molecules abroad is also on the increase in Italy, where recently More than a year new therapies have been available that promise cure rates of 95%. However, due to the very high costs of these 'super-drugs', the Italian Medicines Agency has established that the most serious and urgent patients, who are usually also those with the highest average age, have priority treatment. In some countries of the world, pharmaceutical companies distribute life-saving molecules at controlled prices. And according to experts and associations, it is precisely these countries that Italian patients are looking at with growing interest.

“Those who procure the drug abroad have a very precise profile: between 40 and 50 years of age, usually men. A still young person who wants to get well right away because he wants to shake off a transmissible infectious disease”, explains Ivan Gardini, president of the EpaC Onlus association, today in Milan during a meeting on hepatitis C promoted by Gilead. The nature of these 'journeys of hope' varies from case to case, but most resort to "so-called generic drugs, the result of agreements between drug multinationals and local companies where the former transfer production know-how to the latter" .

“In this case, it should be drugs with the same active ingredient as the 'designer' ones marketed in the West,” Gardini points out to AdnKronos Salute. However, warns Massimo Colombo, director of the Department of specialist medicine and organ transplants of the Polyclinic-University of Milan, "these are drugs not validated by the EU agency EMA for use on European territory and the scientific community has no publication testifying to the equivalence, effectiveness and above all the safety of these drugs”. This is without counting the illegal importation, points out the specialist, who also puts the doctor in a delicate situation.

"As an association - Gardini testifies - we are witnessing different situations: there are some specialists who agree to follow up patients" who have obtained a drug abroad "against written documents attesting to the patient's complete responsibility, and there are others doctors who legitimately don't feel like it. We, for example, have at least one case of a patient who is treating himself. It is a hidden phenomenon that we try to monitor as much as possible, but which is spreading more and more among the patient communities, and not just the virtual ones".

According to the EpaC president, the phenomenon has existed in Italy for 3-4 months and is linked to the “growing discontent of those who feel denied treatment after a visit because it is not serious enough. The people who, as far as we know, have physically purchased the drug abroad are a limited number of cases – Gardini points out – but those who ask us for information on where to get the anti-HCV molecules are growing rapidly. This happens almost every day and puts the association in a very embarrassing situation”.

“To contain the phenomenon it is necessary to eliminate the barriers which, as in any form of prohibition, are circumvented - concludes the EpaC president - It is necessary to provide patients with hepatitis C with temporal certainties on their treatment. With the HCV, something unprecedented has been created for the Italian health system: access to the drug is guaranteed only when the disease gets worse. We must absolutely circumscribe and eliminate this phenomenon which today concerns hepatitis C, but tomorrow could spread to oncology or diabetes”.

Posted on: 16/02/2016 – adnkronos

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