NHS England publishes update on hepatitis C treatment programme

NHS England has published a new blog providing an update on the hepatitis C treatment programme in England, highlighting the upcoming milestone of 25,000 patients having been treated with direct acting antiviral (DAA) treatments.

The blog, written by Professor Graham Foster, Professor of Hepatology at Queen Mary University of London & National Clinical Chair for Hepatitis ODNs, and Peter Huskinson, NHS England's National Commercial Director of Specialised Commissioning, hails other developments, including the availability of a new treatmentGlecaprevir/Pibrentasvir. The authors also highlight the pay-per-cure deal struck by the NHS, which means that for the one in 20 patients who complete their treatment but do not achieve a cure (known as sustained virologic response) the NHS is refunded the cost of drugs.

The blog also mentions the upcoming increase in treatment rates, with a rise in annual planned treatment rates to 13,000 from April 2018. In support of this continued expansion, an updated CQUIN incentive has been made available to hospitals who host the ODNs. Networks are measured to achieve between 90% and 110% of their planned treatment goals, rather than 90% to 100%, as at present, allowing ODNs to treat more patients. The updated CQUIN also incentivises ODNs to focus on establishing stronger links with pathology laboratories and to support opt-out testing arrangements in local prison, drug and alcohol and sexual health services.

In order to build on the progress already made, the authors note that more needs to be done to engage in treatment those with less advanced disease, many of whom are not yet diagnosed, a significant challenge for ODNs in 2018. The full blog post can be read on the NHS England website here.