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Medical News & Perspectives
June 11, 2014

WHO Issues Guidelines on HCV Amid Drug Cost Controversy

JAMA. 2014;311(22):2262-2263. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.5277

In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its first guidelines for diagnosing and treating hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Given that the disease affects 130 million to 150 million people worldwide and results in 350 000 to 500 000 deaths each year, some health policy experts say the guidelines are long overdue. Yet until recently, increasing access to treatment wasn’t a high priority in many low- and middle-income countries because the available therapies posed so many problems. “Interferon-based medications are very complicated to administer, they have high toxicity, and success rates aren’t great, so it was hard to push for more treatment,” said Stefan Wiktor, MD, team lead of the WHO’s Global Hepatitis Program.