CATIE’s HepCinfo Update 6.4

Hep C Info UpdatesNew and Noteworthy

P.E.I. announces their hepatitis C strategy
Community-based program successful at linking people to Hep C testing and care

P.E.I. announces their hepatitis C strategy

P.E.I. announced a hepatitis C strategy to offer hepatitis C services including patient referral, assessment, treatment support, education and follow-up. About 400 people living in P.E.I. have hepatitis C and at least 60 are in the advanced stages of the disease.

People will be screened for hepatitis C in emergency rooms, addiction services, primary care centres, methadone clinics and corrections facilities. The province will invest $1.6 million in the program in each of the next three years.

They will partner with the pharmaceutical company AbbVie to deliver the strategy. AbbVie manufactures the hepatitis C medication Holkira Pak, which is approved in Canada for the treatment of people with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus.

“This strategy will provide the best treatment available to many Islanders with hepatitis C and prevent further spread and serious complications among those with the disease,” stated one P.E.I. physician. (cbc.ca, February 2015, in English)

Prince Edward Island to introduce new lifesaving hepatitis C strategy” contains more information from the Government of Prince Edward Island

Ontario and the Yukon add sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) to their provincial formularies

Ontario and the Yukon have added sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), taken in combination with peg-interferon and/or ribavirin, for people with hepatitis C virus genotypes 1, 2 and 3 to their drug formularies as of February 23, 2015.

The eligibility criteria require that people have a certain level of liver injury (F2 fibrosis or greater) to be approved for treatment.

People with genotype 1 virus who have never been treated before (treatment naïve) are eligible to receive sofosbuvir with peg-interferon and ribavirin for 12 weeks.

People with genotype 2 or 3 virus who have previously been treated with peg-interferon and ribavirin or who are treatment naïve and have an allergy or contraindication to peg-interferon are eligible for treatment. People with genotype 2 virus take sofosbuvir and ribavirin for 12 weeks. People with genotype 3 virus take treatment for 24 weeks.

People who are co-infected with HIV are also eligible to apply for this medication.

Further eligibility criteria for sofosbuvir are available on the Yukon Drug Formulary website and will become available on the Ontario Exceptional Access Program website.

Community-based program successful at linking people to Hep C testing and care
A Philadelphia program called Do One Thing has been successful in increasing access to Hep C testing and linkage to care, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The project took place in a neighbourhood of Philadelphia that does not have many services. Doctors, social workers and patient advocates recruited participants through street outreach and by going door-to-door offering hepatitis C testing.

People were offered point-of-care antibody Hep C tests and if they tested positive for Hep C antibodies, blood was drawn to test for Hep C RNA. If a person tested positive for Hep C RNA, the tester worked with the newly diagnosed person to link them to health insurance programs, if they didn’t have one, and try to refer them to a primary care doctor and a hepatitis C specialist.

The researchers screened over 1300 participants. 2.8% tested positive for Hep C RNA. The largest barrier to retaining people in care was obtaining a referral to specialists, report the researchers. However, 64% of the people who tested positive for Hep C received referrals for care.

“This study demonstrates the importance of community-based testing for HCV in identifying previously undiagnosed individuals and re-engaging those aware of their diagnosis but not currently in care,” reported the researchers. (Healio.com, February 2015, in English)