Ministry of Health distributed over 61,000 treatments for hepatitis C between January 2019 and September 2020, with more than 130,000 people cured
More than 130,000 Brazilians have already recovered from hepatitis C with the new Direct Action Antivirals (DAA), since the incorporation of drugs into the Unified Health System (SUS) in 2015. Between January 2019 and September 2020, the Ministry of Health Saúde has already distributed 61,439 treatments for the disease. The total number of patients who received the drug (130,969) represents 23% of the target for the elimination of infection in the country by 2030. In addition, about 40% of the treatments performed with DAA in Brazil occurred between 2019 and 2020, showing the great advances in policies to combat hepatitis C.
Currently, the biggest challenge for meeting the goals for the elimination of HCV (hepatitis C virus) is in the early diagnosis of the disease, that is, identifying patients who have the infection, but are unaware of their health situation. Today, about 450 thousand people need to be diagnosed and treated in Brazil. The fact that it is a silent disease, which has no symptoms in its initial phase, makes the diagnosis difficult, especially in people over 40 years of age.
Brazil is one of the few countries around the world that offers treatment universally and free of charge through a public health system. In 2019, the Ministry of Health restructured the model for the acquisition, programming and distribution of medicines for viral hepatitis. The prices obtained by SUS are among the lowest in the world, when compared to countries that purchase the same products and have rules similar to those of Brazil in relation to patent rights and legislation for public acquisitions.
The result of the success of the strategies was the end of the wait for medicines in the public health system. Between 2019 and 2020, the Ministry of Health purchased approximately 100 thousand treatments and is able to make other purchases, aiming to guarantee access to all patients diagnosed in the future.
Since August 2019, medicines are no longer sent on a quarterly basis, but on a monthly basis. The measure allows greater agility for patient care. With greater control, it is also possible to send the safety stock, which corresponds to 20% of the consumption presented by the states.
The distribution of medications, as well as the number of patients actually treated for hepatitis B and C, can be monitored through the Information Panel on the treatment of viral hepatitis, launched this year, aiming at greater visibility and transparency of information.
Hepatitis C Represents More than 75% of the Number of Deaths from Hepatitis
In the last 20 years, 673,389 cases of hepatitis were registered, caused by viruses A (25%), B (36.8%), C (37.6%) and D (0.6%). Regarding deaths, in the same period (2000 to 2018), 74,864 deaths from basic causes and associated with viral hepatitis were identified in Brazil. Of these, 1.6% (1,189) were associated with viral hepatitis A; 21.3% (15,912) to hepatitis B; 76.02% (57.023) to hepatitis C and 1.0% (740) to hepatitis D.
Although it represents the largest number of deaths, hepatitis C has been decreasing in the mortality coefficient and in the number of deaths since 2015. In 2014, 2,087 deaths related to hepatitis C were registered, in 2018 there were 1,491 deaths, leaving a fall of 25% in the number of deaths from hepatitis C in this period, which may be related to the beginning of the offer of highly effective treatments, which cure more than 95% of cases.
Most people who have hepatitis C virus infection are unaware, as the disease has no symptoms in most cases. When symptoms start to appear, the disease is usually at a more advanced stage, that is, the patient may have lived with the virus for decades without any manifestation. The late discovery can be made due to the appearance of liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, which can lead to death.
Offer of Rapid Tests no SUS
All people aged 40 and over need to be tested for hepatitis C at least once in their lives. People with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, with psychiatric disorders, undergoing transplants, living with HIV, who had a blood transfusion before 1993, who underwent medical or aesthetic procedures (manicure, tattoos) without observation safety parameters, has a risk factor for HCV infection and also needs to be tested, regardless of age.
The rapid test is provided by SUS and can be requested by anyone in the basic health units. The result comes out in less than 30 minutes. The Ministry of Health has already distributed approximately 12.9 million tests for hepatitis C between 2019 and May 2020. The identification of new patients is currently the main barrier to achieving the elimination of the disease, as a public health problem. , until 2030.
Access to Medicines
Patients undergoing treatment for viral hepatitis now have easier access to medicines. Before, the application and withdrawal process took more than 11 months, in some places. The Ministry of Health, in agreement with states and municipalities, managed to reduce this process to approximately two months, after the reorganization of the distribution periodicity. However, the goal is that next year, with the increase in the number of pharmacies dispensing medicines for viral hepatitis, patients can have immediate access to treatment in most situations.
Ministry of Health Information