direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are just as effective and safe as their branded equivalents
for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, according to
Egyptian research published in Liver
Generics achieved a cure in 98% of patients and a course of treatment cost between
$85 and $141, well below the price of discounted branded medication and making
eradication of HCV in Egypt – which has the highest HCV prevalence in the world
– an achievable goal.
research involved 648 people in Alexandria who were treated with generics
between January 2016 and May 2017. Treatment-experienced and treatment-naïve
individuals were eligible for inclusion, so too were individuals with liver cirrhosis.
Participants received one of two combinations of generic DAAs, in half of cases
with the addition of ribavirin. Outcomes for both regimens were comparable to
those achieved with branded medication. The non-response rate was below 1% and
only eight people stopped therapy – in each case due to the development of
liver cancer. No serious adverse events were reported and the most commonly
reported side-effect – anaemia – was due to ribavirin.
direct-acting drugs used in treating patients with HCV GT [genotype] -4
demonstrated equal potency, safety and tolerability compared to original
brands, with low cost which would help provide treatment to a large scale of
patients,” comment the authors.
of the Egyptian population has chronic HCV infection and 95% of these
individuals carry HCV genotype 4.
Treatment of HCV
has been revolutionised by the development of oral DAAs, which achieve cure
rates well in excess of 90% across genotypes.
DAAs approved in
Egypt for treatment of HCV genotype 4 include sofosbuvir (SOF), ledipasvir
(LDV) and daclatasvir (DAC), used in combination and with or without ribavirin
Egypt is a
low-middle income country and can only afford generic DAAs.
Alexandria wanted to see if DAAs were effective and safe for the treatment of
genotype 4. They therefore retrospectively analysed outcomes in people treated with SOF/LDV or SOF/DAC, with or without ribavirin. People received
treatment per European guidelines for 12 or 24 weeks.
collected on rates of cure (sustained virological response 12 weeks after
the completion of treatment, SVR12), treatment failure, relapse,
discontinuations, serious adverse events and side-effects.
Most of the
people (488) were taking HCV therapy for the first time, and 160 had taken a
previous unsuccessful course of treatment. The treatment-naïve participants had a
mean age of 54 years, half were men and 56% had liver cirrhosis.
Treatment-experienced individuals were comparable in terms of age, but 85% were
male and 55% had cirrhosis.
three-quarters of the treatment-naïve group received SOF/DAC, the remaining
people taking SOF/LDV. Eighty per cent of treatment-experienced people received SOF/DAC, the other 20% treated with SOF/LDV. Just under half (45%) of
individuals took ribavirin.
The overall SVR
rate was 98%. A non-response was observed in 0.6% of people, relapse occurred
in two people (0.3%) and eight participants (1.3%) stopped therapy early, each
case due to the development of liver cancer.
people had an SVR12, as did 97% of treatment-naïve individuals (100% of people without cirrhosis, 95% of people with cirrhosis).
Comparison of the
two regimens showed that 96% of individuals taking SOF/LDV and 98% of
individuals on SOF/DAC had an SVR12. Both regimens were equally effective,
regardless of previous HCV treatment history.
Only people with
cirrhosis received ribavirin, and response rates did not differ significantly
according to its use (100% vs 98%).
significant difference between the two regimens was SVR12 rates in people who
received SOF/DAC and ribavirin and those who received SOF/LDV and ribavirin
(100% vs 88%, respectively, p < 0.001).
serious adverse events were recorded. Anaemia developed in 9% of people, in
each case due to ribavirin, and was successfully managed.
costs of SOF/DAC and SOF/LDV were $85 and $141, respectively. The authors note
that a single course of therapy with branded medications, even with a
substantial drug company discount, would cost in the region of $1500.
“These prices are
all very expensive and would not have helped to treat a large number of
patients due to its high burden for health care systems as well as for the
patients,” they write. “So the only solution was to introduce low-cost generic
drugs with the same efficacy and safety into the market. In our study, we
demonstrated that the Egyptian generic DAAs succeeded to achieve this target.”