NICE recommends Hepcludex for NHS use to treat aggressive form of viral hepatitis
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended Hepcludex (bulevirtide) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis delta virus (HDV) infection. The drug is recommended as a treatment option for chronic hepatitis D in adult patients with compensated liver disease only if there is evidence of significant fibrosis and if their hepatitis has not responded to previous treatment.
The drug is the first to be conditionally licensed for this patient population in Great Britain, with a previously limited choice of treatments for this condition. HDV infection is somewhat rare, with an estimated 1,800 people in England having evidence of the infection, however it is likely that this is an underestimate as only a small proportion of patients are thought to have been diagnosed.
Dr Ahmed Elsharkawy, consultant transplant hepatologist and honourary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Birmingham, commented: “While many people have heard of hepatitis C and hepatitis B, today chronic hepatitis D infection is arguably the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat form of viral hepatitis. However, despite this reality, there have been no licensed treatment options available for NHS patients in England and Wales. Today’s news on bulevirtide is very welcome. It means we can finally offer our patients a treatment option that will allow us to target a virus that, in many of our patients, can be life-threatening as it causes serious liver damage and liver cancer.”
Dr Véronique Walsh, vice president and general manager at Gilead Sciences UK & Ireland, stated: “At Gilead, our ambition to end the burden of viral hepatitis and bring innovation to patients is unrelenting. The first conditionally licensed option to treat chronic HDV infection is another step on a remarkable journey. Our focus now is to ensure all those who could potentially benefit from bulevirtide are able to do so. We are looking forward to working in partnership with the NHS, hand-in-hand with health professionals and the viral hepatitis community to accelerate uptake so that no one is left without the care and support they need.”
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