Portugal agrees to treat 13,000 hepatitis C patients

February 7, 2015 1:58 pm 

LISBON, Feb. 7 — The Portuguese government has agreed to treat up to 13,000 people infected with hepatitis C in the next three years, Portuguese Minister of Health Paulo Macedo said on Friday.

"We will be able to treat more sufferers in a fairer way. We will open way to initiate the eradication, the elimination of the disease," he told a press conference.

He said that the government would pay every treatment undertaken by sufferers of hepatitis C.

"We will not pay for three, 12 or 24 weeks of treatment, but for each patient treated," he said, adding that the state will not cover expenses if the patient needs additional treatment.

The move came on the heels of the death of 51-year-old Maria Manuela Ferreira, a hepatitis patient who died last month while waiting to receive treatment.

Shortly before the announcement, the new Gilead Sciences drug, Sovaldi, reached the European market.

According to Portuguese daily newspaper Publico, the agreement between the Ministry of Health, the National Authority for Medication and U.S. drug industry group Gilead Sciences was made on Thursday night, following a week of intense negotiations.

Sovaldi, which has a cure rate of 90 percent, is expected to cost up to 25,000 euros (28,287 U.S. dollars) in portugal per treatment, the same price agreed for Spain.

Gilead Sciences has faced controversy regarding the price of its drug. However, the U.S. company has maintained that it is a priceless breakthrough for both patients and their families.(PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/PJN

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