Cipla, FIND Tie up to Detect Hepatitis C
Only 1% of 12 m people with Hepatitis C are diagnosed with liver disease in India
New Delhi: Indian pharmaceutical giant Cipla has partnered with FIND, a global non-profit focused on delivering affordable diagnostic tools, in a project to increase detection of Hepatitis C cases in the country. Only 1% of an estimated 12 million people in India with Hepa- titis C ( HCV) are actually diagnosed with the liver disease today, said Catharina Boehme, CEO of Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) that works on accelerating development and delivery of affordable diagnostic tests for poverty-related diseases.
“In order to capitalise on the (blockbuster oral drugs like Sofosbuvir) that we have now, diagnosis is the bottle neck,” she said. Cipla and FIND have collaborated to increase access to screening facilities and cheaper diagnostic tools, Boehme said. The Genevaheadquartered non-profit is in the process of negotiating a grant agreement with global health organisation UNITAID and at least a third of the grant would be in- vested in its project in India, she said. “Our plan is to work with the UNITAID project and build diagnostic capacity and have this complemented by the Cipla partnership, which will focus on demand creation,” Boehme said.
Sharadd Jain, Cipla Global Access director of operations, said the project will roll out in a few months in places like Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. While FIND would take care of the development of diagnostic tools, Cipla intends to in- crease demand for HCV treatment through screening programmes and patient education, he said. Cipla will leverage its ‘Awareness, Counselling and Treatment of Hepatitis C’ (ACT-C) programme for this purpose as well, Jain said.
Early detection of HCV is difficult because the infection often does not show symptoms.
Up to 45% of those infected with acute HCV spontaneously clear the virus within six months without any treatment, while the remaining develop chronic HCV infection, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “Of those with chronic HCV infection, the risk of cirrhosis of the liver is 15%-30% within 20 years,” it states.
Cipla and FIND have collaborated to increase access to screening facilities and cheaper diagnostic tools