US donor company of Hepatitis C medicines to Georgia says expiration of pills worth 570 mln GEL ‘not unusual’

The Georgian State Audit Office has submitted a report  on expired Hepatitis C medicines. Photo: netgazeti., 20 Jan 2020 - 14:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

Gilead, the US company providing free Hepatitis C medicines to Georgia since 2015, has stated that the expiration of Hepatitis C medicine worth 560,645,083 GEL ($194 million USD) is not ‘unusual.’ 

We understand that a small proportion of hepatitis C virus (HCV) medicines donated by Gilead, representing 5 per cent of our total donations to date, reached their expiration date without being used. This is not unusual, as public health programs typically procure more medicines than the project will be needed,” Gilead says in the statement released by Georgian Health Ministry earlier today. 

Gilead says that it is unlikely that the expiration of the medicines has affected the reach or impact of Georgia’s HCV elimination efforts in any way. 

Gilead continues to actively support HCV elimination in Georgia, and we are working with the Ministry of Health of Georgia to ensure that Georgians living with HCV can continue to access the latest advances in HCV treatment,” Gilead reports, adding that the Georgian government has ‘successfully treated’ more than 58,000 Georgians with their medicines.

Gilead says that “Georgia is at the forefront of international efforts to eliminate hepatitis C.” 

Deputy Head of the Georgian National Disease Control Centre Paata Imnadze says that many infected people in Georgia refuse to get involved in the free of charge Hepatitis C Elimination Programme. Photo: tabula. 

The Georgian State Audit Office submitted earlier this year a report on the expiration of the medicines which gave rise to negative comments on social media. 

 Deputy  Head of the Georgian National Disease Control Centre Paata Imnadze says that the medicines were for people who have Hepatitis C and who have refused to get involved in the “fully free of charge” programme. 

We have contacted the people several times and asked them to get involved. However, they refused to do so. It is the nature of a Georgian man to come for treatment at the last minute. We can not force the people to receive treatment,” Imnadze said. 

Imnadze stated that 16,000 [official data, unofficial figures are likely to be higher] still suffer Hepatitis C in Georgia. 

  • Typically the treatment costs €110,000 per person, which is free for Georgian citizens.
  • In partnership with Gilead, Georgia launched a large-scale Hepatitis C Elimination Program in 2015. The program aims to make Georgia a Hepatitis C-free country by 2020.
  • In 2015 more than seven percent of the Georgian population was infected with Hepatitis C.