Scotland

Hepatitis C drug Sofosbuvir approved for use on NHS

Hepatitis C Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People with the most common form of the virus will be prescribed the new drug on the NHS

Experts have approved the use of a new drug to treat hepatitis C on the NHS.

Sofosbuvir cures the majority of patients, but costs £36,000 per course. It is to be made available to people with the most common form of the virus.

It is estimated 50,000 people in Scotland have hepatitis C.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) decided the high cost of offering the drug to such a large group of patients was outweighed by its effectiveness.

People with less common forms of the virus will be offered the new drug if conventional treatment fails.

Hepatitis C is contracted through contaminated needles, blood or sexual intercourse, and causes liver failure or liver cancer.

Current treatment involves regular injections for up to a year with a drug which has unpleasant side effects and works for only 60-70% of patients.

Sofosbuvir is one of a new generation of treatments which are much more effective but come with a high price tag.

A course of the drug takes just 12 weeks.

A statement by the SMC said: "The consortium accepted sofosbuvir for restricted use because it is effective and addresses an unmet treatment need."

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