Buying hepatitis C drugs online

The Hepatitis C Trust believes that everyone in the UK living with hepatitis C should have access, within a reasonable, time to interferon-free treatments that offer a 90% or better chance of being cured – because that treatment exists. We will continue to push, as hard as we can, the governments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the pharmaceutical industry to come to agreements that make this possible.

In the meantime some people cannot access treatment because they do not have sufficiently advanced liver disease, because they are having to wait an unacceptably long time, or because the drugs are considered too expensive and therefore not cost-effective for their genotype. For these people, if they can afford it, there is the option of buying the drugs themselves, generally the vastly cheaper generic versions.

What you need to know

Don’t self-prescribe.

It is critically important to take the right drug(s) for the right amount of time for:

  • The particular genotype you have.
  • Your past experience of treatment.
  • The state of your liver.

You need an experienced doctor to advise you.

We strongly recommend against self-prescribing because, if you take the wrong drug(s) or for the wrong amount of time and the treatment does not work, you risk developing resistance that could harm your chances of future treatment working.

The importance of being monitored during treatment.

Although the new drugs are relatively free of side-effects, there is always the risk that you could fall ill during treatment and it is extremely important to know whether this was caused by the treatment or not. Please see the paragraph on buying drugs online safely below.

Are generic drugs as effective as those used in the NHS?

Good quality generic versions of Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), Daclatasvir (Daklinza) and the combination of Sofosbuvir and Ledipasvir (Harvoni) all exist, either in pill or in powder form, known as the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient or API but at a fraction of the price of the original drugs. Research has shown that these are as effective as the original versions.

However, there are also fake or poor quality drugs being sold. It is therefore important to be sure of where the drugs are coming from. The rule is: if you’re not sure, don’t buy. We also strongly advise against buying the API and making up the pills yourself.

Is it legal to import the drug yourself?

It is legal to import these drugs into the UK for personal use. They should be accompanied by a copy of the prescription or other documentation showing that they have been prescribed for your personal use.

Anything up to and including 12 weeks of treatment will generally be considered to be for personal use. If you need more than 12 weeks, ensure that the copy of the prescription or other documentation makes this clear.

It is not legal to import these drugs for anyone else or to sell them.

How can I buy the drugs online as safely as possible?

Although it is impossible to guarantee anything – and we certainly do not – our research has led us to believe that the best place to go is www.fixhepc.com. This site was established by an Australian doctor to help patients get the drugs before they were available there.

They will give you legal access to drugs sourced from highly reputable generic manufacturers at reasonable prices. You will also have an online consultation with a doctor to make sure you are prescribed the right drugs to treat your hepatitis C. For this consultation you will need to have your latest blood and liver test results. It is important to note that thefixhepc.com website will not provide monitoring during treatment, you will need to arrange this yourself.

How can I arrange monitoring?

It is current NHS policy that if you are buying drugs yourself you should also be paying for any monitoring. The NHS is considering whether an exception might be allowed for hepatitis C.

In the meantime, some doctors realise that if you are buying the drugs yourself you are saving the NHS money and are prepared to monitor you for free, we strongly recommend that you discuss this with your doctor before buying any drugs.

If you are experiencing any difficulties accessing treatment, are unsure of your options or your rights, please call our helpline to discuss your situation in detail, please call our helpline on 0845 223 4424 or 020 7089 6221, Monday-Friday 10.30am-4.30pm, or by email helpline@hepctrust.org.uk