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Hepatitis C Treatment in Latvia

Hepatitis C Treatment in Latvia

Over the past three years I have been very aware of the situation for Hepatitis C treatment in Latvia because on some levels the situation has evolved in a very good way. Let me give you a little background.

When I first began helping people around the world access generic Hepatitis C medicines Latvia was one of the European countries that prohibited the importation of generic Hep C medicines. Fortunately it was not too difficult to smuggle medicine into Latvia so I supplied a number of people there via various channels. But it was frustrating because neighbouring countries like Lithuania, Estonia and such all had quite favourable rules for importing medicines for personal use. Often people from Latvia were forced to travel to Lithuania to get their generic Hep C medicines.

About 2% of the population in Latvia is infected with Hepatitis C, that is to say that one in every 50 Latvians has Hep C. It is a very serious health problem for Latvia.

In Latvia the predominant Hep C genotype is G1, with Hep C genotype 1 making up about 80% of the total Hep C infections in Latvia.

 

HCV prevalence/infected population in Eastern Europe (adjusted for the adult population)

 

Region/Country

Number of studies

Anti-HCV prevalence (%)

Anti-HCV infected (thousands)

Viraemic rate (%)

Eastern Europe

20

3.1

6682

69.6

 Belarus

2

1.3

100

69.0

 Latvia

3

2.9

73

71.4

 Lithuania

2

2.4

42

 Moldova

2

4.5

130

 Russia

8

4.1

4932

 Ukraine

1

3.6

1385

 

The situation for accessing generic Hepatitis C treatment in Latvia changed dramatically when  one Latvian lady, a nurse, brought the issue into the public eye. This nurse, who had contracted Hep C through her work, could not access treatment through the Latvian Health system because she was not sick enough. She needed to have a liver fibrosis score of F3 or F4 to access treatment. So, of course, she tried to cure her Hep C by smuggling generic Hep C medicines from India into Latvia. Her Hep C meds were seized by Latvia Customs and they refused to release them to her. Her frustration and despair and anger was profound. Here was her cure being blocked at the border by the very people who refused to offer her treatment through the health service she worked for. THe Latvian government was saying “Even though you were infected with Hepatitis C working in our hospitals we will not treat you… further more we will block your access to any form of treatment that you wish to pay for yourself.”

The furious nurse went to the Latvian press and when  the Latvian news media heard of the story all hell broke loose!

Here was a Latvian nurse who had contracted Hep C through the course of her work, who the government health service would not treat because she did not have cirrhosis and yet the government was preventing her from buying the medicine that would cure her. There was public outrage and the President of Latvia stepped into the storm and made a decree that any Latvian could import generic Hepatitis C treatment if they had a prescription from a Latvian doctor. It was simple and common sense.

It was a wonderful solution.

So Hepatitis C treatment in Latvia was now possible with generic DAAs and a number of Latvians began to source their medication from India.

However Big Pharma would not lay down and let this move unchallenged and the beast began its usual tactic of spreading rumours about the reliability and safety of generic Hep C treatments from India. It is a common tactic of Big Pharma around the world. The beast uses it vast wealth to corrupt and to influence.

And so today, even though it is quite easy for Latvians to import generic Hep C medicines into Latvia not many do so. This is because the information is not flowing  that affordable generic Hep C meds have exactly the same cure rates as the expensive brand versions. This is because people are being made fearful that they might buy fake medicines or be the victim of some kind of fraud. Fear is always a favourite weapon of Big Pharma.

Below is a letter I received this week from a lady in Latvia, it explains quite well the situation for Hepatitis C treatment in Latvia.

Hello! (Labdien!)

My name is S….. I live in Riga, in Latvia. Our country is small, but very, very, very beautiful. We have the most beautiful sea, nature and forests in the world! I have a family which I love very much. Very soon in the world will come my first grandchild which I am waiting with happiness.

In short … I would be more happier. If only, with your help, I could reach what I couldn’t  10 years ago, to heal the Hepatitis C which I found in 2005, by accident.  Doctors found in my analyses the HCV, genotype 1.

But nothing … I do not give up. I have learned about these many years living with this devastating virus and not to give up!

I have had one very long and hard course of treatment in 2007. I tried to heal with medicinal products which were available at the time. With peginterferon (PEG INF) and ribavirin (RBV) combination.  Treatment course lasted one year of my life! It was a very painful and very difficult. I had very severe side effects and I had to plunge a syringe into myself every day!

As well as the syringe in my body these are the adverse treatment reactions of PEG INF and RBV therapy? (Which I used it)

Weakness, tiredness, dry skin, efflorescence, loss of appetite, stomach disturbance, joint pain. Starting therapy, almost always I had elevated temperature. Changes in blood count- leucopenia (increases the risk of infection), thrombocytopenia (increases the risk of bleeding), anemia (create weakness, heart palpitations), thyroid function changes.

It was a terrible year… the worst of my life. But I stood up to end this nightmare. That said, UNFORTUNATELY, the terrible cure did not work and my struggle with this virus did not end and it’s still continuing.  This is because after a year-long  and expensive treatment course,  virus 3 months after the treatment  returned!  As for so many others the treatment for me was also unsuccessful.

And finally … In this year I got a good message, from my treating doctor who introduced me to a long-awaited opportunity for me! I very much wish to be cured! and for the rest of my life part to enjoy life  and delight for life! I wish to be with my loved ones, and manage to make a lot of things in future.

Eh, I still have so much to manage!!! Life is so very, very, very short and beautiful!!! J

But in my country if I wish to get the new Hepatitis medicines and have the opportunity to rid myself of the Hepatitis C virus, then the virus  must have already damaged my liver to the extent that I have cirrhosis. I must have liver damage to stage F 4 (it is already the stage with liver cirrhosis development or decompensation to reduce the risk of liver cancer development).

This year i find out about new opportunities….There is a medicaments (a new generation of medicines) that could cure me! And with a good success and the expectations of cure!

But there  are big problems related to the hepatitis C treatment in Latvia?

Latvia is the only country in the European Union that:

1) the State shall compensate the VHC treatment only 75% of the cost of the medicines. This means that even if I could get treatment the cost would be many thousands of Euros.

2) Even eligible medicines list does not contain any of the newest medications for treatment; the VHC

3) Our health system does not make or fund liver transplantation in adults with cirrhosis of liver.

 

Therefore I am appeal You, please, help me! To help from a reliable suppliers to find and buy medicines. Here in Latvia, I can not even buy these medicament! I’m ready with resoluteness to start the treatment again!

My treating doctor told me the following combinations of medicines:

 

  1. sofosbuvir (SOF)+ ledipasvir
  2. sofosbuvir (SOF)+ daklatasvir (DAC)
  3. sofosbuvir (SOF)+ Velpatasvir

These 3 combinations of medicaments are provided for treatment of genotype 1. I will do any of these combinations. Maybe there is some opportunity to buy cheaper medicines…. directly from the manufacturer? If it is required, I have a chance to get these medicines prescription.

Thanks for listening, I will be waiting the news from You.

Best Regards,

S…….

C Hepatita Arstesana Latvija

Greg Jefferys

Greg Jefferys

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