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Funding boosts access to advanced drugs for Welsh patients

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Patients in Wales with hepatitis C or a rare immune system disorder are to have access to newly approved drugs, after ministers announced extra investment.

The Welsh government is to invest £13.8m in providing access to drugs approved recently by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group.

“I am pleased to announce this significant new investment, which will give patients in Wales access to these advanced treatments”

Mark Drakeford

The drugs include sofosbuvir, an oral hepatitis C treatment that avoids lengthy courses of injections and has a very high cure rate, and eculizumab, a treatment for the life-threatening immune disorder atypical Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome – known as aHUS.

In January, NICE said eculizumab could give an extra 25 years of life to the estimated 14 people in Wales with aHUS.

The investment will also enable three further hepatitis C treatments – daclatasvir, simeprevir, and ledipasvir – to be made available on the NHS in Wales to those meeting the relevant clinical criteria.

Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford said: “I am pleased to announce this significant new investment, which will give patients in Wales access to these advanced treatments.

Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford

“Patients with the hepatitis C virus will now be able to access new treatments that in many cases will cure the individual,” he said.

“Those suffering with the extremely rare condition aHUS will now have access to the high-cost but life-changing drug eculizumab, which will improve their quality of life dramatically,” he added.

Four new medicines have been recommended by NICE and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group for use in the treatment of hepatitis C:

  • daclatasvir (Daklinza)
  • simeprevir (Olysio)
  • sofosbuvir (Sovaldi)
  • ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni)
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