Hepatitis C, a contagious infection of the liver, is a growing concern in our country. It affects about 12 million people, according to the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR), in India which lacks enough clinical research to deal with it.
There are five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. Of the five, three have no cure, said ISCR President Suneela Thatte. “Moreover, all types of hepatitis are contagious and some of them can be potentially life-threatening. Yet, despite the alarming statistics, we, as a country, have not undertaken enough clinical research in this area. We need treatment regimens that are short and therapies that are effective, affordable and well-tolerated,” she said.
Most of the estimated 12 million people affected by Hepatitis C do not know they have the disease. India has 17 per cent of global population and 20 per cent of global disease burden. But less than 1.4 per cent of global clinical trials are done in India, according to ISCR.
“India was never a country that had a very high percentage of trials relative to the trials being done in the rest of the world. Also, it is not our objective to be the No 1 country in the region or globally for doing trials.
“What is important is the trials being done in India are significant enough to address our growing burden disease and the unique healthcare requirements of our country. People living with viral hepatitis have a right to safe, affordable and effective care and treatment,” Thatte said.
Each year, World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 to raise global awareness. This year, the theme is ‘elimination’ with ambitious targets by the WHO member-states to curb its spread and eradicate it as a public health threat by 2030.
One of the five core intervention areas of the global strategy is treatment including new, well-tolerated medicines and regimens for people with chronic hepatitis infection.
According to the ISCR, attainment of this goal requires scaling-up clinical research extensively, particularly in India which carries a high burden of hepatitis B and C.
(With inputs from PTI)