NICE is updating recommendations advocating wider drug use for treating chronic hepatitis C patients.
The Health Protection Agency reports that approximately 142,000 people between 15 to 59 years old suffer from chronic hepatitis C in Wales and England.
Combination therapies are being recommended by NICE, including the drugs peginterferon alfa (2a or 2b) and ribavirin. The recommendation applies to those who have been treated unsuccessfully by either drug or who also suffer from HIV.
Dr Gillian Leng, NICE Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Chronic hepatitis C can be a debilitating condition, which, if left untreated can lead to serious life-long health consequences.
“However, the treatments themselves do have some side effects, which is why this draft guidance is good news for people who want to consider taking shorter courses of treatment with peginterferon alfa. Widening access to these drugs will not increase the NHS drug budget by much but will give clinicians and people living with hepatitis C more treatment options.“
The draft guidance is currently being reviewed to later be adopted by the NHS.
The draft guidance is available on the NICE website