Photo shows during the hepatitis press conference are (from left): Pamela Chan, Yellow Warriors Foundation spokesperson; Dr. Erlinda Valdellon, HSP founding president; Dr. Marilyn Arguillas, HSP president; Dr. Judy Lao-Tan, HSP internal auditor; and Dr. Dennis Dioko, Roche business unit director.
The Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) and Roche celebrated World Hepatitis Day with the official launch of a new Hepatitis Treatment Access Program.
Hepatitis B is a deadly disease with a high prevalence rate in the Philippines. Studies show that in the Philippines there is a Hepatitis B carrier rate of 9%. This means that out of 10 people at least 1 is a carrier of Hepatitis B. It is estimated that more than 7.7 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B, of whom between 1.1 and 1.9 million are expected to die prematurely of cirrhosis or liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis B one of the most challenging infectious diseases to manage.
The Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) has seen the growing rate of Hepatitis B in the country and aims to provide comprehensive information to the public and medical community. They strive to spread awareness of Hepatitis B in the country as well as providing the information and means to the treatments necessary for the disease.
HSP, in partnership with Roche officially launched the PEGASSIST Easy Access Plan for patients with Hepatitis B. This is an innovative first-of-its-kind treatment access program that aims to provide Hepatitis B patients with the means to finance the medication and treatment they need to combat the disease.
At a press conference attended by members of HSP, as well as the Hepatitis Support Group The Yellow Warriors, and Roche, the PEGASSIST Easy Access Plan was introduced and the mechanics of the plan explained.
Through the PEGASSIST Easy Access Plan, patients with hepatitis B can have access to the peg-interferon alfa-2a hepatitis treatment medication with discounts up to as much as 50%. “The PEGASSIST Easy Access Plan socializes the medication discount system. This means, patients who truly cannot afford the medication will get a higher discount accordingly,” said Dr. Dennis Dioko, Roche specialty business unit director.
“For patients who are interested to see if they can qualify for discounts through the PEGASSIST Easy Access Plan, there are several ways to find out. First, if they are seeing a gastroenterologist, their doctor can refer them to the Hepatitis Hotline.”
According to Dr. Dioko, “After hepatitis B patients call the hotline – manned by the Hepatitis Hotline nurse – and have already been prescribed Peg interferon alfa-2a by their doctors, they will be referred to a financial assessment agency. The financial assessment agency will then conduct an evaluation of the patient to determine the discount rate applicable to the patient. Once the financial assessment has been completed, the agency will decide how much of a discount the patient is eligible to receive. Patients can receive as much as 50% off of the medication.”
The Hepatitis Hotline nurse will then inform the patient of their qualified discount rate. At this point, the nurse will also explain to the patients the details on how they can purchase their medication at the discounted rate through the plan’s official distributor.
“In addition to providing discounts on the medication, hepatitis B patients will also be provided with free selected hepatitis B laboratory tests that would have otherwise been very expensive. Tests such as HBV DNA Testing and S-quantification are samples of laboratory tests patients can have access to through the PEGASSIST Easy Access Plan. The hotline can guide them accordingly on how to avail of these discounted labs,” added Dr. Dioko.
The program hopes to be able to make treatment and care available to a wider range of hepatitis B patients and give them the opportunity to get the medication they need. In addition to discounted medication and discounted laboratory tests, the hotline will also provide a nurse assistance program that will continue follow-ups on patients throughout the course of treatment. And for patients who wish to pay through credit card, they can opt to pay via staggered payments to make the payments even easier on their budgets.
The program is an important step in furthering Hepatitis awareness and treatment options in the country. Launched timely with the celebration of the World Hepatitis Day, both HSP and Roche seek to provide hope to Hepatitis B patients who do not know how they can afford the treatments necessary to battle Hepatitis B. With the PEGASSIST Easy Access Program, they are one-step closer to a life-changing cure. For additional information on the PEGASSIST Easy Access Program, call the Hepatitis Hotline at 718-7620.