83 organizations from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed an open letter addressed to manufacturers of Hepatitis C treatment with a request to reduce the price for a 48-week regimen to 2000 US dollars.
In the letter, the activists state that the current price in the countries of the region is around 15,000 US dollars which is a lot more than the average annual income, making the treatment unaffordable for patients who urgently need it. According to the activists, if the price is reduced, it will enable governments to provide more patients with life-saving treatment within national programmes; moreover, more patients will be able to afford the treatment themselves.
Gregory Vergus, coordinator of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, says, "The experience of such countries as Egypt shows that the price indeed can be reduced to 2000 US dollars; moreover, it is a necessary precondition for an effective response to the epidemic. Also, in our region with a high prevalence of drug use, accessible Hep C treatment is not a luxury – it is a necessity. A necessity must not cost 15,000 US dollars”.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia remains one of the most difficult regions in terms of Hep C prevalence. The estimated number of people living with Hepatitis C in the region is 7 million. On the eve of the World Hepatitis Day, several organizations in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan held street actions aimed at reducing prices for Hep C treatment.