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NHS set to eliminate hepatitis C in three years

A five-year contract worth almost £1 billion has helped the NHS to reduce deaths by 35%
The NHS is set to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2025, five years ahead of the global target.

A five-year contract worth almost £1 billion has helped the NHS to reduce deaths by 35%, over three times more than the World Health Organisation’s 10% target.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England national medical director said: 'Thanks to targeted screening and because the NHS has a proven track record of striking medicine agreements that give patients access to the latest drugs, we are on track to beat global targets.'

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Through the NHS elimination scheme, 70,000 people were found and cured of the virus by searching health records for key Hepatitis C risk factors.

This reduced the number of people seeking liver transplants by two-thirds.

“These figures demonstrate the ability of the NHS to use its commercial capabilities and purchasing power to tackle population health challenges benefitting tens of thousands of people,” said national director for specialised commissioning at NHS England, John Stewart.

The NHS had made a deal with three major pharmaceutical companies to buy antiviral drugs for patients with 80% of treatment provided to the most deprived half of the population.

This elimination programme is contributing to the reduction of health inequalities specifically in children from deprived areas.

Last year, 90% of treatments given were to the 40% most deprived children.

CEO of the Hepatitis C Trust, Rachel Halford said: 'We now need a final concerted effort to make sure we reach all those that may be affected and reach elimination. Investment in a national campaign to improve public awareness of hepatitis C to reduce stigma and encourage people who may have been at risk to get tested is paramount.'