Basel, Switzerland (ots/PRNewswire) - - Roche Supports Patient Groups and International Health Bodies to Call for Increased Resources to Fight Viral Hepatitis - a Major Global Killer
A staggering one in 12 people globally are estimated to be infected with chronic hepatitis B or C - this equates to around 500 million people worldwide.(1,2) What is even more alarming is that in some European countries up to 98% of people infected with viral hepatitis and have not been diagnosed and are unaware that they have the infection.(3)
In response to such worrying statistics, the first global World Hepatitis Day on 19 May 2008 sees the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA), international health and patient groups and campaign sponsors, such as Roche, coming together to raise awareness of the staggering global impact of viral hepatitis. At a press briefing on World Hepatitis Day in Geneva, the WHA urged us all to consider the possibility - 'Am I Number 12?' This figure reflects the staggering proportion of the world's population unknowingly infected with this indiscriminative disease and is a figure which puts it on the same platform as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
"Roche is proud to support World Hepatitis Day as part of the first integrated global effort to raise awareness of viral hepatitis," said Rob Mitchell, Head of Viral Diseases Strategic Marketing at Roche. "As an innovative pharmaceutical company, our primary focus is on advancing the science and treatment of hepatitis B and C. We also view participation in efforts to increase recognition of the urgent need to prevent and diagnose viral hepatitis among those at risk as a core component of our commitment."
Are you at risk?
People who have been exposed to any of the following risk factors for viral hepatitis C should request a hepatitis C blood test from a physician.
This includes anyone who:
- Has tattoos or body piercings
- Had a blood transfusion before screening was introduced (before
1992 in most countries)
- Shared equipment for injecting drugs or cocaine straws/bank notes
- Had medical or dental interventions in countries where equipment
is not adequately sterilised
- Had needle stick injuries (especially emergency services and
- Shared a toothbrush or a razor (very low to medium risk)
"The World Hepatitis Alliance has been formed to provide a voice for the 500 million people around the world affected by chronic viral hepatitis B and C," said Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance. "Hepatitis currently has the same low levels of awareness as HIV/AIDS did in the 1980s and on this first World Hepatitis Day, we hope governments and policy makers will take urgent action to tackle the chronic viral hepatitis B and C epidemic."
About World Hepatitis Day
World Hepatitis Day is being observed on Monday 19 May and marks a brand new, entirely patient-led initiative. The day has been launched in response to the concern that chronic viral hepatitis has nowhere near the level of awareness nor the political will to tackle it that is seen in HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This is despite the fact that the numbers chronically infected with, and annually killed by, hepatitis B and C viruses are on the same scale.
About the World Hepatitis Alliance
World Hepatitis Day is being coordinated by the World Hepatitis Alliance, a newly established Non-Governmental Organisation which represents more than 200 hepatitis B and hepatitis C patient groups from around the world. The World Hepatitis Alliance is governed by a representative board of patient groups from seven world regions: Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, North America, South America, Australasia & Western Pacific. For more information visit http://www.worldhepatitisday.comon Monday 19 May.
About Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is transmitted primarily through blood or blood products. HCV chronically affects 130 million people worldwide, which makes it over four times more prevalent than HIV.(2,4) It is a leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure, despite the fact that many patients can be cured.
About Hepatitis B
Chronic hepatitis B is such a serious global healthcare problem that it is estimated that more than 350 million people worldwide are chronically infected with the disease.(1) It is one of the principal causes of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and primary liver cancer.(1) Approximately one million people die from chronic hepatitis B annually, making it the tenth leading cause of death worldwide. For those chronically infected, the immediate aim of treatment is remission of liver disease to prevent progression to cirrhosis, liver failure, and primary liver cancer.(1)
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As the world's biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people's health and quality of life. Roche is the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics and drugs for cancer and transplantation, a market leader in virology and active in other major therapeutic areas such as autoimmune diseases, inflammation, metabolic disorders and diseases of the central nervous system. In 2007 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totalled 36.8 billion Swiss francs, and the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 9.3 billion Swiss francs. Roche has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai, and invested over 8 billion Swiss francs in R&D in 2007. Worldwide, the Group employs about 79,000 people. Additional information is available on the Internet at http://www.roche.com.
Notes to Editors:
Hope - Now and in the Future
There are now very good reasons to get tested for viral hepatitis as treatment options have greatly improved over the last few years. For patients with hepatitis C, the drug PEGASYS(R) (pegylated interferon alfa-2a (40KD)) can lead to cure rates as high as 84% in some patient populations.(5) Additional studies are underway to evaluate Pegasys plus COPEGUS(R) (ribavirin) in patients who do not achieve high cure rates with current treatment protocols. These include major, multi-national trials such as PROGRESS, CHARIOT and NCORE.
Pegasys is also the only pegylated interferon to be approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B in over 60 countries. Unlike nucleoside/nucleotide analogue treatments for hepatitis B, Pegasys works by fighting the disease in two ways: by boosting the immune system and at the same time, directly attacking the virus. This can enable the body to gain enduring control over the virus without the need for long lasting therapy.
In addition, Roche's pipeline offers the promise of exciting new developments for the treatment of hepatitis. "Direct antiviral" treatments for hepatitis C may increase cure rates and shorten the length of treatment. R1626, a polymerase inhibitor that was discovered and developed internally at Roche, is the most advanced in its class. Roche has also engaged in several important research partnerships with biotechnology companies, including a collaboration with Pharmasset, Inc. to develop R7128 (a polymerase inhibitor) and with InterMune, Inc. to develop R7227 (a protease inhibitor).
For broadcast-standard video supporting this press release, please visit http://www.thenewsmarket.com/roche. If you are a first-time user, please take a moment to register. Questions may be directed to: email@example.com.
1. Lavanchy D. Hepatitis B virus epidemiology, disease burden, treatment, and current and emerging prevention and control measures. J Viral Hepat 2004;11:97-107.
2. World Health Organization. Initiative for Vaccine Research, Viral Cancers, Hepatitis C. 2006. (Accessed July 24, 2006, at http:// www.who.int/vaccine_research/diseases/viral_cancers/en/index2.html.)
3. Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN). Comparative analysis of HCV prevalence across selected countries of Europe and the Mediterranean area; 1 October 2007.
4. AIDS Epidemic Update. 2006. (Accessed October 26, 2007, at http://www.who.int/hiv/mediacentre/2006_EpiUpdate_en.pdf.)
5. Hadziyannis SJ, Sette H, Jr., Morgan TR, et al. Peginterferon-alpha2a and ribavirin combination therapy in chronic hepatitis C: a randomized study of treatment duration and ribavirin dose. Ann Intern Med 2004;140:346-55.
For more information, please contact: Mike Nelson, Roche, International Communications Manager, +41-795-72-5165; Michelle Marchione, Axon Communications, +44(0)20-8439-9449.
For more information, please contact: Mike Nelson, Roche,
Original-Content von: Roche Pharmaceuticals, übermittelt durch news aktuell
International Communications Manager, +41-795-72-5165; Michelle
Marchione, Axon Communications, +44(0)20-8439-9449.