NICE Recommends Roche and MSD Treatment Combo for Hepatitis C

Posted 18 July 2013 | By Louise Zornoza 

In draft guidance published today the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends peginterferon alfa in combination with ribavirin as an option for treating chronic hepatitis C in children and young people.

Peginterferon alpha is manufactured by Roche Products (Pegasys) and Merck Sharp and Dohme (ViraferonPeg). Ribavarin is manufactured by Roche Products (Copegus) and Merck Sharp Dohme (Rebetol).

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that infects the liver. Children contract the disease primarily from their mothers at birth. The virus can be cleared from the body naturally, but if it is not, and is not treated with drugs, it can progress to chronic hepatitis C (long term infection, lasting more than six months), which increases the risk of scarring of the liver (fibrosis and cirrhosis), liver failure and liver cancer. Peginterferon alfa-2a and peginterferon alfa-2b, in combination with ribavirin are the only treatments currently licensed in the UK for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C in children and adolescents.

"The independent Appraisal Committee concluded that treatment with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin can decrease the hepatitis C virus to undetectable levels, effectively providing the equivalent of a cure for the disease," explained NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director Professor Carole Longson. "By widening access to these drugs this guidance will give clinicians and people living with hepatitis C more treatment options. Early successful treatment is also likely to lessen the social stigma that can be associated with hepatitis C infection later in life."

NICE Guidance on Peginterferon Alfa

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Tags: UK, EU

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