Reported by Chang Ho-Der
Liver disease is a national health problem. Statistics show that about 13,000 people die from liver related problems every year. The mortality rate is one death every 45 minutes. The Liver Disease Prevention and Treatment Research Foundation and a drug company jointly organize a sponsor program to provide free new drugs for hepatitis C for patients with financial difficulties.
In Taiwan, about 4% population have contracted hepatitis C. Taiwan is among a small number of countries whose prevalence rate of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is over 3%. HCV infection imposes a health risk on more than 550,000 people in Taiwan. Without proactive treatments, patients might develop cirrhosis or liver cancer. So far, there are a few new drugs for hepatitis C on the market. They are very effective and with fewer side effects; however, the new drugs are very expensive. A therapeutic course costs over NT$1M. As they are not covered by the NHI, ordinary people have no means to access the new drugs.
The Liver Disease Treatment and Prevention Research Foundation and a drug company jointly launch a sponsor program. 50 patients from financially vulnerable background will receive new drugs for hepatitis C free of charge. Yang Pei-Ming, the President of the Foundation said: “We would like to provide some hope for patients who did not respond well to the conventional treatments. We hope such program can help alleviate their pains and cure them.”
Yang Pei-Ming pointed out that this program cost NT$6.5M in total. He hoped this action could inspire more and long-term donations. He also urged drug companies to reduce the prices of new drugs for hepatitis C to make them more affordable. The government should also formulate a national plan to tackle this health issue and eliminate hepatitis C by including the treatments into the NHI Benefit Scheme.
【2016-03-31/ Radio Taiwan International】