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Gregg Alton, Gilead's executive vice president (Reuters)

Georgia as a Testbed for Hepatitis C Elimination — Reuters

Gilead Sciences, a US-based biopharmaceutical company that specializes in developing innovative medicines, uses Georgia as a global example to back up its belief that the hepatitis C can be eliminated with proper government funding. The healthcare program initiated by David Sergeenko, country’s minister of health, by which the minister proposed to eliminated Hepatitis C in the country is viewed as a potential success story in the United States. Georgia’s “manageable size” highly contributes to this view, according to Gilead Sciences’ head of corporate and medical affairs. 

Reuters reported last week that the unprecedented program will make Georgia a “testbed for uprooting the liver-destroying disease.”

“Georgia has the world’s third highest prevalence of hepatitis C, after Egypt and Mongolia, with nearly 7 percent of adults carrying the virus. It also has a wide range of viral variations and different types of patients,” — Reuters writes. The country’s “manageable size,” with the population of 4,5 million, is believed to be a great factor in using Georgia as the test vehicle for the experiment. 

“It is a nice country for us to evaluate,” Gregg Alton, Gilead Sciences’ head of corporate and medical affairs told Reuters.

Sergeenko Health minister
Georgia’s health minster David Sergeenko, whose Hepatitis C program is viewed as having global potential in the United States

Thus, Mr Sergeenko’s program received a positive evaluation in the United States, with the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention backing his initiative in material terms as well. According to Reuters, the Center will cover firs 5,000 patients’ costs in 2015, with the next stage expected to get as big as 20,000 Hepatitis C-affected individuals a year.

“Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs, and rival products from the likes of AbbVie, can cure hepatitis C but are out of reach at Western prices to patients in poor countries, with a single Sovaldi pill costing $1,000 in the United States.While Gilead has slashed the price for several low-income countries to $300 per bottle of 28 pills, it also wants to involve international donors in a broad eradication drive,”– Reuters writes. 

“We will take the Georgia data to other countries around the world to really make the case that investment can fundamentally change the disease over time,” Alton told the news agency Reuters.

By Nino Gojiashvili
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