Hepatitis C
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A new partnership has been forged in Belfast to deliver ‘triple win’ benefits to patients, NI Health and Social Care (HSC) and the economy.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and Northern Ireland’s Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre (MOIC) have announced the new tie-up with the aim of eradicating Hepatitis C in Northern Ireland.

The organisations say they will put in place a new framework to improve patient access to the latest treatments, make more effective use of HSC resources and increase cross-sector medical research.

The partnership agreement signed by MOIC and the ABPI will create a new process whereby HSC will look to industry to help tackle major health challenges which can be addressed by innovative treatments.

One of the first areas the partnership will tackle is Hepatitis C which can cause serious liver damage, cancer, and premature death.

Incidence of the ‘silent epidemic’ is on the rise in Northern Ireland, with cases increasing by 53 per cent in 2019 against the previous ten-year average.

Untreated, the disease is associated with major costs and productivity losses, estimated for the UK at between £210-£427 million by 2035.

However, a new generation of treatments known as direct-acting antivirals can cure the condition, creating a real hope that it can be eradicated as a public health challenge.

Mike Scott, director of MOIC said: “We have a long-standing positive relationship with the ABPI and look forward to the benefits that our new partnership will bring.

“I’m delighted that tackling Hepatitis C will be one of our first goals. In 2016, the UK signed up to the World Health Organization Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which commits participating countries to eliminate the disease as a major public health threat by 2030. We believe our new partnership with the ABPI will help create the conditions for NI to exceed that target.”

Cathy Harrison, chief Pharmaceutical officer NI said: “The Department of Health welcomes the new partnership between MOIC and the ABPI. We believe it will ensure that collaboration is focused on where it can add the most value in making innovation as widely available to patients as possible.”

Colette Goldrick, director ABPI Northern Ireland and NHS Engagement, said: “Cross-sector partnership agreements have already proved effective in GB, and we are delighted to be working with MOIC to bring the same benefits to Northern Ireland.

“Our partnership with Greater Manchester for example has already led to three substantial projects in the fields of Hepatitis C, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, matching NHS needs with industry offers. We want to do the same in Northern Ireland.”

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