Strains of Hepatitis B are becoming increasingly resistant to treatment, according to the report, Target Hepatitis, which states that the disease can be prevented through the widespread use of vaccines. Currently no mass vaccination programmes exist in the UK.
“A programme needs to be put into place to ensure that all British children are inoculated against Hepatitis B,” said ABPI Medical Director, Dr Richard Tiner. “It is a matter of public health. Much of the rest of Europe operates mass childhood vaccination programmes; it is time that the UK followed suit.
“Hepatitis B is becoming increasingly resistant to antiviral medicines. Once a patient is infected, the disease is difficult to control. We need to focus on the importance of prevention.”
According to Target Hepatitis, Hepatitis B – a disease transmitted through bodily fluids – will rapidly become resistant to treatment as mutant forms emerge. In 20 per cent of cases, patients with the condition will find that the disease has mutated within the first year of treatment to the extent that it no longer responds to medicines. Within the first five years of treatment, the number of people who become immune to antiviral medicines rises to 70 per cent.
The UK-based pharmaceutical industry is currently developing many innovative new medicines aimed at controlling resistant strains of the disease, which attacks the liver.
“The UK-based pharmaceutical industry is currently developing a range of new medicines aimed at overcoming antiviral resistance, which will improve the lives of the thousands of patients who are diagnosed with the disease each year,” said Dr Tiner.
Target Hepatitis examines all variants of the disease, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis D and has been produced in association with the British Liver Trust, Hepatitis C Trust and Hepatitis B Foundation UK.
About the ABPI:
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has 150 members including the large majority of the research-based pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK, both large and small. Our member companies research, develop, manufacture and supply more than 80 per cent of the medicines prescribed through the National Health Service (NHS). For further information visit: www.abpi.org.uk
Media contact: ABPI Press office, 020 7747 1410.