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    Elimination of hepatitis B and C now feasible

    Hepatitis B and C can be eliminated as a public health problem, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

    “This is feasible because new technologies have been developed, in particular an effective hepatitis B vaccine and direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) for hepatitis C, which are basically curative,” Brian Strom, MD, chancellor for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, told Medical Economics.

    Strom chaired the Committee for a National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C that produced the report, "Eliminating the Public Health Problem of Hepatitis B and C in the United States: Phase One Report."

    This report is phase one to define the primary barriers to solving the problem. Phase two of the report, due out next year, will address how to address those barriers, Strom said.

    The report notes that hepatitis B and C account for more than 1 million deaths worldwide, 78% of the world's hepatocellular carcinoma, and more than half of all fatal cirrhosis every year. In 2013, hepatitis B and C virus surpassed HIV and AIDS to become the seventh leading cause of death in the world.

    Both diseases can be eliminated as a public health problem, the report states, but “this would take considerable will and resources; disease control may be more manageable in the short-term.”

    “These two diseases cause about 80% of liver cancer. If we cure the diseases, we cure liver cancer, which is both fatal and expensive,” Strom said. “Part of the cost-effectiveness of the drugs is they can help prevent cancer. Yet, society hasn’t put enough emphasis or focus on this.”

    Mark L. Fuerst
    Staff Correspondent

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