Hepatitis C cure is so expensive that people are making their own cheaper but dangerous medicines

FixHepC Buyers Club is a highly organised website, popular for enabling its users, who are mostly Hepatitis C patients, to purchase cheaper versions of Sofosbuvir (or Sovaldi), which is the cure for devastating liver disease called Hepatitis C.

Sofosbuvir is an expensive drug, which is unaffordable for middle or lower class people in many parts of the world. This is why, helpless patients are using internet to learn how to make this medicine for themselves, which needless to say, can result in dangerous outcomes.

By buying the active ingredients required for making this medicine, several people have tried to make their own capsules, and China is a popular destination to buy these ingredients.

"A year ago, we did not have the access to Sofosbuvir combination, because of which we would buy the API from China and India and formulate our own drugs. Now, we see in countries like the US, Romania, Canada and the UK, patients are buying the API and formulating the Hep C drugs. People are doing this because desperate times call for desperate measures. The drug is too expensive for people to buy, which is forcing them to resort to these measures," Dr James Freeman, who founded the FixHepCBuyers Club in Australia, told ET.

A 12-week treatment of Indian generic Harvoni that treats Hep C genotype 1 will cost about $1,400, including shipping, but when the API equivalents are bought from these websites, it costs less than $750.

"It is really dangerous, especially with concerns of toxicity and safety. This trend also shows that people are aggressively looking for cheaper options," said Dr Mandar Kubal, who is the Director of Infectious Diseases & Pulmonary Care (Mumbai) and is a keen watcher of the buyers' club on the internet.

The drugs need to be more affordable because around the world, nearly 150 million people suffer from Hep C infection, and only these drugs can treat this disease.

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