Chronic hepatitis C infection is one of the most important causes of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in Thailand and worldwide. The hepatitis C virus causes liver inflammation and fibrosis, and may involve other systems such as the kidney and the hematological system. In Thailand, this disease can annually impacts over 500,000 people and an estimated 20%-30% will develop cirrhosis of the liver after 20 years of infection.
Until recently, the combination of Pegylated interferon and ribavirin was the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C infection in Thailand. Unfortunately, this treatment has significant side effects, requires a long treatment duration and is contraindicated in patients with poor liver function. Treatment outcomes were not satisfactory and only a limited number of physicians could safely prescribe the treatment.
However, a better solution was just over the horizon. A new direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment, called Sofosbuvir had been developed by a key principal of DCH Auriga which was capable of producing results with higher response rates, shorter treatment duration and less side effects. Studies found that combinations of two or three hepatitis C virus DAA taken for 8-24 weeks could cure more than 90% of people treated. The new medicine caused minimal side effects and was generally well tolerated by patients. It was clear that Sofosbuvir had the potential to revolutionise the care of people living with hepatitis C and potentially eradicate this deadly disease.
After careful consideration, Thai doctors and government health authorities decided in favour of increasing the availability of Sofosbuvir in Thailand and began to works towards a change in the national HCV treatment paradigm. With enthusiastic support from all stakeholders including the Thai FDA, Thai Red Cross, Thai AIDS Society and Thai Association for the Study of the Liver, Sofosbuvir received fast registration in Thailand, approved within just 6 months after submission versus the normal review time of 18-24 months.
In partnership with our principal and the medical community, Auriga continues to support the accessibility of Sofobuvir in Thailand and is currently working to help list the medicine on the National List of Essential Drugs. After listing, we aim to further expand patient access through government systems in support of the national plan to treat 200,000 HCV infected patients by 2020.