Although it was almost overshadowed by the emotion of hearing the formal apologies for the contaminated blood disaster, there was an important announcement about access to current treatments in the debate last Thursday.
The issue of access to the new ‘interferon-free’ therapies was raise in the debate by several MSPs including Jenny Marra MSP and Bob Doris MSP.
Bob Doris MSP asked,
Will the Scottish Government ensure that those who are living with hepatitis C due to contaminated blood get full and speedy access to the range of curative medicines that have been developed recently? I note that, quite often, the NHS does not prescribe some of those medicines until the late stage of hepatitis C, when the disease has been sitting in the body for a significant amount of time. Early access to curative medicines would be vital for many hep C sufferers.
The Cabinet Secretary responded by saying,
Obviously, these are clinical judgements, and someone would have to be clinically suitable for any drug or treatment. With that caveat, I would say that it is very important that those who have been affected through the infected blood and blood products are given the opportunity to have those treatments, but they have to be clinically suitable, and that is a clinical judgement.
We think it is hugely welcome that the Cabinet Secretary understands the importance of all those who were infected by NHS products having access to these new therapies. We know that several of our members are already on the new products and are having a good experience with them. However, at the moment they have only been made available to those who are most ill. We are encouraged by what the Cabinet Secretary has said and will keep campaigning on this important issue.
As part of that process we are continuing to make submissions to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) in support of these new products as they come up for consideration. Today we made a submission in support of Viekirax and Exviera from Abbvie.
We are also running a Hepatitis C Information Day on the Saturday 30 May so that you can find out more about these new treatments and ask any questions you might have. Find out more and register today to make sure you don’t miss out.