Reuters: “Gilead uses Georgia as free-drug testbed for hepatitis C elimination”

Gregg Alton, Gilead's executive vice president, corporate and medical affairs, speaks with media in New Delhi, September 2014. Photo REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee, Apr 24, 2015, Tbilisi, Georgia

American biotechnology company Gilead Sciences is seeking to convince governments and multilateral agencies worldwide that hepatitis C can be eliminated with a demonstration project in Georgia offering free drugs to all those who need them.

International news agency Reuters  published an article this week about Gilead’s plight to eradicate hepatitis C in Georgia, which will see the price of costly medication be fully subsidised for Georgian sufferers.

Reuters reporter Ben Hirschler writes: "Gilead's hepatitis C drugs, and rival products from the likes of AbbVie, can cure hepatitis C but are out of reach at Western prices to patients in poor countries, with a single Sovaldi pill costing $1,000 in the United States.

"While Gilead has slashed the price for several low-income countries to $300 per bottle of 28 pills, it also wants to involve international donors in a broad eradication drive.”

Georgia has the world's third highest prevalence of hepatitis C, after Egypt and Mongolia, with nearly 7 percent of adults carrying the virus. It also has a wide range of viral variations and different types of patients, writes Hirschler.

The scheme, which has the backing of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will cover an initial 5,000 patients in 2015, with a second phase treating up to 20,000 a year.

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