NHS England Strikes Deal with Three Pharma Companies to Eliminate Hepatitis C

May 1, 2019

NHS England and three pharma companies have agreed to work together to find and cure tens of thousands more people with hepatitis C, potentially leading to Britain becoming the first country to eliminate the virus.

The National Health Service (NHS) England and three pharma companies have agreed to work together to find and cure tens of thousands more people with hepatitis C, potentially leading to Britain becoming the first country to eliminate the virus.

“It’s not often that the opportunity arises to completely eradicate a disease, but now the NHS is taking practical action to achieve exactly that,” said Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England. “The NHS’s sophisticated and unashamedly rigorous negotiation on behalf of both patients and taxpayers means we’ve now been able to strike affordable deals with our life sciences partners to save many more lives and meaningfully cut health inequalities.”

Through the deal, NHS England will work with Gilead Sciences, MSD (known as Merck in the US and Canada), and AbbVie to find and treat patients with hepatitis C, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the virus prior to the 2030 deadline set by the World Health Organization. The agreement is a result of a new procurement approach that has been adopted by NHS England, which boosts competition between drug companies to obtain the best deal for patients and taxpayers. 

“The Hepatitis C Trust is delighted with this development. 69% of people who have the virus are currently undiagnosed so the funding in the deal to help find those with hepatitis C and support them into treatment is ground-breaking,” stated Rachel Halford, chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust. “We believe this deal offers a unique opportunity for all stakeholders-patient organizations, pharmaceutical companies, clinicians, prison healthcare, and drug misuse services-to work together to reach all those affected. By making sure we reach the most marginalized and hardest to engage, we will ensure that no one is left behind and stop unnecessary deaths.”

“The clinical community is delighted with the opportunities presented by this new initiative which will allow us to go further, faster in our efforts to eliminate hepatitis C as a significant health problem in England,” added Professor Graham Foster, national clinical chair for hepatitis C, NHS England. “The new procurement allows us to prescribe all of the available treatments for hepatitis C and the increased focus on case finding will allow us to expand services to the most vulnerable in our society.”

Source: NHS England