British Columbia to provide public access to Gilead Sciences’ Epclusa for genotype 1-6 HCV


British Columbia (BC) has listed Gilead Sciences Canada’s Epclusa (sofosbuvir / velpatasvir) tablets on a public drug plan to treat all six genotypes of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

Listing of the once-daily, pan-genotypic single tablet is set to support patients to access the curative therapy.

Epclusa can be used in adult patients without cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis, and also in combination with ribavirin (RBV) for those with decompensated cirrhosis. 

It has also been approved to treat patients with genotypes 2 and 3.

University of British Columbia medicine, gastroenterology and hepatology clinical associate professor Dr Alnoor Ramji said: "We now have the ability to cure almost all patients with chronic HCV with a simple, safe and effective 12-week treatment, regardless of genotype or patient history. 

"Broader access to Epclusa, particularly at the earlier stage of the disease, means that we can move more quickly to help patients achieve a cure and improve their quality of life, while saving valuable funds associated with the significant long-term burden of illness and costs to the healthcare system."

The drug approval was based on data from four international Phase III studies, ASTRAL-1, ASTRAL-2, ASTRAL-3 and ASTRAL-4, involving 1,035 patients without cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis.

"We now have the ability to cure almost all patients with chronic HCV with a simple, safe and effective 12-week treatment, regardless of genotype or patient history."

Prior to the listing, an agreement was completed between the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) with member provincial, territorial and federal drug plans to fund the new therapy for patients. 

More than 53,200 people in BC are estimated to be living with chronic HCV, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

Genotype 1 infection is prevalent in Canada representing 64.1% of infected individuals, while genotypes 2 and 3 account for about 14.1% and 20.2% of infections in Canada.

Genotypes 4, 5, and 6 are less prevalent in Canada and account for 0.3%.


Image: Epclusa is listed on public drug plan to treat all six genotypes of chronic hepatitis C infection. Photo: courtesy of CNW Group/Gilead Sciences.