In one of the greatest advances in medicine in decades, Hepatitis C is now largely curable. Over 200,000 Australians suffer from Hepatitis C. However the US manufacturer, Gilead Sciences Inc is attempting to charge the PBS $84,000 for a 12 week course of medication that costs under $200 dollars to manufacture. The company has already made an $11 billion dollar profit on its patent purchase and it’s CEO has been reported to have pocketed over US$400m in the last 6 years.
This story is bigger than Hepatitis C. If there isn’t a change to the way developed countries manage their relationships with Big Pharma what will happen when cures for diseases like breast cancer are found? Are we, as a society, willing to live in a world when only the super rich can access life saving medication that is inexpensive to manufacture?
“If things don’t change that is exactly the future in store for us, that’s why the FixHepC Buyers Club assists patients to safely exercise their right to import medication from overseas” said Dr. James Freeman.
“The FixHepC Buyers Club process is legal because the TGA rules provision the right for patients to import a 12 week supply of medication into Australia for their own use.”
“The FixHepC Buyers Club can assist 95% of Hepatitis C sufferers with affordable treatment,” claims Dr John Freeman, FixHepC spokesman. Since inception just two months ago the website has been inundated with over 2 million visitors and has a growing allegiance with leading Australian clinicians including the Australian Society of HIV and Hepatitis Medicine.
“HepC patients access a prescription from their family doctor or from an online medical service such as GP2U. The patient sends the script and funds to the Buyers Club and authorizes it to act on their behalf to source the medication from a reputable overseas supplier”
There is a free clinical guideline and fact sheet for GPs who are willing to prescribe generic medication for patients and manage them through the course of their treatment available at http://fixhepc.com/getting-treated/how-to-do-it/doctors.html
“The medication is sent to the University of Tasmania for stringent testing to ensure its purity. It is then encapsulated by a local compounding chemist and sent to the patient. Patients are able to safely access a course of the medication for AUD$1550-$2700 rather than the $84,000 being demanded by the manufacturer.
Since April 2015, the Buyers club has assisted several hundred patients with over 80% showing no traces of the virus after 4 weeks of treatment and 100% showing a viral load of zero after 8 weeks.
Dr Freeman says:
We acknowledge the costs and risks associated with drug development and have no problem with drug companies being profitable. What we do take issue is the situation where only around 500,000 people have been treated during the same time period that 1,500,000 have been allowed to die in pursuit of super profits, you could look the current pricing structure as being akin to holding vulnerable dying patients to ransom.
“As clinicians our major concern in prescribing medication was the risk of the supply chain integrity being compromised. The Buyers Club eliminates that risk by having medication tested using Nuclear Resonance at a leading Australian University laboratory against baseline samples of the patented, regulatory approved product,” Dr Freeman said.