This site is intended for health professionals only

Top hepatitis drug available on NHS

An advanced drug that fights hepatitis will be made freely available to thousands of NHS patients in England after new guidance was issued.

Tenofovir is the only medicine to combat chronic hepatitis B that does not induce resistance after two years. It is already approved in Scotland and Wales.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which assesses the cost-effectiveness of new treatments, has backed using the drug in the NHS in England.

It means that primary care trusts in England will start paying for patients to have the treatment, also known by its brand name VIREAD.

Professor Graham Foster, Consultant Hepatologist at Barts and The London NHS Trust, said: "The NICE final guidance recommending VIREAD is a significant advancement for the management of hepatitis B."

The hepatitis B virus is up to 100 times more easily transmitted than HIV and sufferers are also at risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver and cancer.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence