Worldwide, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, 72 per cent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. HCV is a blood-borne virus that can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer, as well as a range of systemic health problems. In 2015, more people were newly infected with HCV than were treated for it (1.75 million versus 1.1 million), and more than 490,000 people died from HCV-related complications. Estimates indicate that only 2.1 million people had been treated with newer sofosbuvir-based treatment regimens as of the end of 2016, leaving 68.9 million people waiting for access to safer, more tolerable and more effective direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) to treat their HCV.
This issue brief provides information on currently available HCV diagnostics and treatments, including pricing and registration information from manufacturers of DAAs. Reasons underlying the continued lack of access to HCV treatment are discussed, including delayed scale-up by governments, intellectual property barriers, regulatory challenges and high prices.