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Posted at: May 1, 2016, 1:16 AM; last updated: May 1, 2016, 1:16 AM (IST)

Hepatitis C: Generic medicines hold the key, says expert

In Punjab, 1 of every 16 persons suffering from Hepatitis

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30

Generic medicines are expected to revolutionise Hepatitis C treatment in India and all across the world as they did in the case of HIV/AIDS.

Dr Rajoo Singh Chhina, Professor and Head of Gastroenterology, who is also Dean Academics at the local Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), expressed these views while delivering a talk organised by S Jagdev Singh Jassowal Charitable Trust here today.

“India has over 40 million Hepatitis B infected patients, second only to China, and most people with chronic Hepatitis B or C are unaware of their infection, putting them to serious risk of developing liver failure and cancer which is life threatening,” said Dr Rajoo Singh Chhina.

He said Hepatitis B and C are one of the most common causes of liver disease in north India and Hepatitis B vaccination should be done for people of all age groups.

Hepatitis C, a common cause of liver disease in India, can cause serious chronic liver diseases. Research studies have shown that approximately 6 lakh patients die every year from Hepatitis B infection and 12 million people are infected with Hepatitis C in the country.

Proper national policies relating to screening and referral for Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C have to be developed, said Dr Chhina.

Lack of awareness about the disease and its treatment coupled with the fact that it has no visible symptoms in its early stages, has contributed to its spread in northern India. As one out of every 12 persons is suffering from Hepatitis virus in the world, the ratio is quite alarming in the state of Punjab, where one out of every 16 persons is suffering from Hepatitis.

Expressing deep concern, Dr Chhina said the region’s main problem is that of intravenous drug users, quackery and the use of low quality disposable needles and recycling of needles which is a common practice. Other reasons for the spread of Hepatitis B virus are the transfusion of infected blood, unprotected sexual contact with infected persons and from infected mother to the baby.

He said nowadays treatment in the form of antiviral drugs such as interferon and ribavirin was available for patients. But still prevention is the best medicine which should be adopted, he added.

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