The World Health Organization has identified 2030 as the year in which the worldwide elimination of hepatitis will be achieved. This goal can be realized with the introduction of direct antiviral drugs that are capable of curing patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C in about 95% of cases.
These antivirals are available in Italy since 2014 and can be prescribed only by professional centers identified by regional authorities
In Humanitas over 1000 patients treated with direct antivirals
In Humanitas there are now 1000 patients who have been treated with these drugs by the team of Internal Medicine and Hepatology, with an overall recovery rate of 97%.
“It can be said that so far no patient with chronic hepatitis C, known to our center is still affected by the disease – said Prof. Alessio Aghemo, Head of the Unit of Internal Medicine and Hepatology – in fact even the few patients who failed the first-line treatment, have obtained recovery when retracted. It is a great boast for our center and is a proof of the efforts made by the doctors of the Operating Unit since 2014.
“In addition, thanks to the creation of the dedicated outpatient clinic ,we are now able to start an antiviral treatment in less than 21 days from the first visit- explained the professor. This guarantees our patients a fast recovery progress”.
” There is still much to be done in terms of diagnosis to identify those people who are not aware of the infection and therefore did not have access to the treatment-explained Aghemo and to treat those patients who are aware of their condition were not reported to the specialist centers. For this reason, in 2019-2020, there will be projects designed to increase the diagnostic rate in general medical practitioners and to guarantee that all patients with hepatitis C in Humanitas will have rapid access to a specialist, in order to make Humanitas the first Hepatitis C free hospital”.
The benefits for patients and the public health
The High School of Economics and Management of Health Systems (ALTEMS) calculated the impact of the use of these drugs in Humanitas in a cost-consequence analysis in terms of the public health expenditure, as well as the healing for patients.
The simulation conducted on a group of 696 patients with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis treated in the three-year period 2017-2019 at Humanitas showed that, over a period of 20 years, there have been 472 deaths related to the liver, 175 cases of hepatocarcinomas, 90 cases of decompensated cirrhosis and 84 liver transplants.
The anti-HCV treatment can also be considered an investment not only for health but also for public expenditure: the three year period of reference increase in expenditure for anti-HCV drugs of € 3.9 million, allows to obtain fewer complications associated with the course of the disease and a relative decrease in the use of resources related to the monitoring of the disease, generating in the cohort of patients who were treated in the three-year period 2017-2019 an accumulated saving of € 5.5 million over 20 years.
“On the basis of these results, it can be stated that the treatment of patients affected by HCV is an investment in health because, particularly in less severe patients, the disease prevents progression, which in turn reduces the manifestation of serious complications (hepatocarcinoma, cirrhosis, transplants) as well as the use of resources associated with their treatment,” concluded the professor.