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Watchdog backs hepatitis treatment


Thousands of patients in England with chronic hepatitis can now receive free drugs to treat the disease after new guidance from the country`s health watchdog.

Tenofovir, which has already been approved in Scotland and Wales, can be safely used to treat severe cases of hepatitis B infection without leading to resistance two years on.

The health service in England will now start funding the drug, also known as Viread, after its use was backed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

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Professor Graham Foster, consultant hepatologist at Barts and The London NHS Trust in east London, said: “The NICE final guidance recommending Viread is a significant advancement for the management of hepatitis B.”

The virus is up to 100 times more easily transmitted than HIV and as a result, more than 325,000 people are believed to be living with chronic hepatitis B in the UK. Those with the disease are at risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver and cancer.

Copyright Press Association 2009


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