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NICE approves groundbreaking hepatitis drug

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Thousands of patients could benefit when an advanced hepatitis drug is provided free for the first time in England after approval from NICE.

The decision means primary care trusts in England will now start funding tenofovir - the only chronic hepatitis B medication that does not result in resistance after two years.

In Scotland and Wales, the drug, branded as Viread, has already been approved.

Professor Graham Foster, consultant hepatologist at Barts and The London NHS Trust in east London, said: ‘The NICE final guidance recommending Viread is a significant advancement for the management of hepatitis B.’

In the UK there are said to be more than 325,000 people with chronic hepatitis B.

Victims are at risk of cirrhosis of the liver and cancer from the virus - which is up to 100 times more easily transmitted than HIV.

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