MSD & the fight against Hepatitis C continues!

April 2024

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How are we partnering with the NHS to deliver hepatitis C elimination?

Building on the success of the initial 5 year programme, the world leading initiative to find, test and treat people at risk of hepatitis C has been extended for another 2 years.

MSD is proud to be part of the NHS Elimination programme which is a first of its kind programme, involving a close collaboration between NHS England, the Hepatitis C Trust, Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs), the pharmaceutical industry (Abbvie, Gilead and MSD), His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSE) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Chronic hepatitis C infection, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), is thought to affect over 62,600 people in England.[1] Symptoms can take years to develop and as a result, many people are unaware that they are living with the virus. If left untreated, HCV can lead to serious health problems including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC).[2] This not only places a heavy burden on the individual, but on the NHS and the economy.[3.4]

In 2016, the UK Government signed up to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on Viral Hepatitis which commits participating countries to the elimination of HCV as a major public health threat by 2030. NHS England is working to surpass the WHO target through a number of initiatives including a unique and innovative partnership – The Hepatitis C Elimination Programme.[2]

In this unique 7 year programme, a series of ‘elimination initiatives’ are being provided by the NHS and industry, which aim to identify potential patients, test for infection and offer treatment to everyone who needs it. Working with 24 Operational Delivery Networks, which were set up across England to help manage hepatitis C services at a local level, MSD has supported elimination through four elimination initiatives:

Point of Care Testing (POCT): In partnership with Cepheid, we are rolling out Cepheid rapid HCV RNA testing equipment to prisons, community projects and outreach services. Delivering rapid finger-prick testing that delivers results in 1 hour.

Patient Search Identification (PSI): A case-finding tool which searches for coded HCV risk factors in patient records in primary care settings to identify potentially at-risk patients that should be reviewed and, if appropriate, tested.

Peer-to-Peer Support (P2P): Through partnership with the Hepatitis C Trust (THCT), we are providing a network of peer volunteers with lived experience of HCV to provide education, encouragement and support directly to patients throughout the treatment and care journey. Through this partnership, we are also working to develop a community-led model to reach out to south Asian communities. These communities have a higher prevalence of HCV infection than the general population, but have often been excluded from receiving culturally relevant information and interventions.

Community Liaison Officers (CLO): Community Liaison Officers work with the ODN clinical teams to align and coordinate hepatitis C services and provide outreach to patients attending clinics, as well as working in homeless hostels, night shelters and drug treatment centres.

To speak to a member of the team, please contact Elimination Programme Lead, Kuldip Sembhi at:  

1 UKHSA Hepatitis C in England 2023. Available at: Last accessed March 2024

2 UKHSA Hepatitis C in England 2022 Report: Working to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health problem Available at: Last Accessed March 2024

3 Singh J, Longworth L, Estimating The Cost Of Liver Transplantation In Patients Diagnosed With Chronic Hepatitis C And B In The UK, 2014. Available online via: Last accessed March 2024

4 Wright M, Grieve R, Roberts J, Main J, Thomas HC, Alexander G, et al., Health benefits of antiviral therapy for mild chronic hepatitis C: Randomized controlled trial and economic evaluation.  Health Technology Assessment.  2006:10

GB-NON-09120 | April 2024