Last year, 2016, brought a whirlwind of changes and progress to the hepatitis C field, particularly when it comes to direct-acting antiviral medications. This included various drug approvals and access improvements for hepatitis C medications, including Daklinza, Epclusa, Sovaldi/velpatasvir, Viekira, and Zepatier. As we make our way deeper into 2017, this breakneck speed of new treatment options for hepatitis C is not expected to continue; however, there is still a lot of interesting activity underway in the world of hepatitis C.
As the co-chief medical editor of the magazine HCV Next and a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham shared in his recent cover story in HCV Next, 2017 is expected to be “a year of transition,” meaning that the field is shifting from a previous focus on drug development to a new focus on helping populations access the many choices in hepatitis C medications and reducing transmission of this disease.
The messaging about hepatitis C testing is also evolving. The previous push was for a one-time test of all Baby Boomers, but now experts realize that all adults should be tested for this disease. This is particularly true for high-risk populations, such as drug users.
This coming year is also seeing a change in how patients access testing, with primary care providers overseeing a growing number of tests; this correlates with primary care providers increasingly becoming the access point for treatment (as opposed to hepatologists and gastroenterologists). Many patients report a higher level of comfort being tested and treated in their more familiar setting of the primary care health provider.
No matter where patients get tested or treated – or which medication is chosen – the most important thing is that more patients are learning about their disease status and addressing it.
Saag MS. 2017: A year in transition. HCV Next January 2017.