NHS further delays access to sofosbuvir

Hepatitis C Trust

A delay in the implementation of sofosbuvir by NHS England has frustrated and angered both patients and liver specialists. It is estimated are that every month’s delay could lead to 40 people with hepatitis C developing preventable cancer, and 30 patients progressing to cirrhosis.

The delay made headlines, with the move by NHS England being described by the Guardian as unprecedented because NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has approved the drug. NICE says sofosbuvir is cost-effective, because it is a cure for people who would otherwise run up huge NHS bills.

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said he was very concerned and fears that it could open the door to a whole new approach to approving drugs. He said “NICE has apparently allowed NHS England to make a decision based on affordability rather than cost-effectiveness. It feels to me as if a whole new criterion has been invented by the backdoor”.

NICE has said that the NHS in England will be able to postpone implementation of the drug for four months, until the end of July – not the original April target.

Hepatitis C Trust. Frustration as new treatments delayed. Newsletter (January 2015).

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