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Sofosbuvir-based drug very effective for HCV treatment – A breakthrough for hepatitis C patients

KUWAIT: A number of gastroenterologists agreed on Sunday that sofosbuvir substance (commonly known by its brand names Sovaldi, Hepcinat, EHEP, Resof, Hepcvir and SoviHep) helped cure up to 95 percent of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients. Kuwait’s Ministry of Health is keen on providing the world’s latest treatment regimens in order to ensure the highest possible cure rates, said Dr Ahmad Al- Fadhli, chairman of Haya Al-Habeeb Gastroenterology Center. He made the press remarks on the sidelines of a seminar on HCV which gathered German Dr Peter Bogisch and Dr Kosh Agarwal – consultant hepatologist at the Institute of Liver Studies, King’s College Hospital, London, as well as a number of noted local physicians.

On his part, Dr Fuad Al-Ali voiced joy for the breakthrough which has been made in the treatment of HCV since the sofosbuvirbased drugs were marketed in 2013. He noted that he will deliver a lecture on the Kuwaiti program to eliminate HCV infection totally and declare the country free of this serious viral disease. “Twenty-nine out of 32 HCV patients in Kuwait have recovered completely after receiving sofosbuvirbased drugs in combination with other drugs,” Dr Al-Ali said, noting that these regimens are now available in Kuwait. “The Ministry of Health used other ways to treat this infection two decades ago but these ways used to have side effects unlike the sofosbuvir-based drugs which take three-month time to produce the desired result of complete recovery,” he added. “Though fatal, the HCV infection rarely shows symptoms and is a silent attacker; it needs lab tests to be diagnosed. “It was first discovered in Kuwait in 1992. Some people had unknowingly got blood transfusion from HCV-hit donors at that time when the preventive measures were not as strict as nowadays,” Dr Al-Ali went on. He highlighted the need to raise public awareness about the preventive measures, including the pre-marriage and pre-employment tests as well as the tests for newlyemployed expatriates in Kuwait.

Meanwhile, Chairperson of Thunayan Al- Ghanim Gastro Center Dr Hayfaa Askar said the HCV which could cause cancer lymphomas in the liver could be defeated easily in three-month time through a onetablet daily dosage of Sovaldi. Dr Ra’ed Al- Suwait, of Al-Jahra Hospital, said the Ministry of Health imported a first shipment of the second generation of Sovaldi which is enough to treat 300 patients. “The cost of Sovaldi is very high; it amounts to nearly KD 17,000,” Dr Al-Suwait added. The Seminar gathered a number of gastroenterologists and pharmacists as well as experts in clinical chemistry and representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Blood Bank, the Red Crescent Society and the Patients Helping Fund Society. —KUNA

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