Hepatitis C is a chronic viral infection that can cause fatal liver disease. Around 71 million people worldwide suffer from this condition. For many years the only known cure had damaging side effects and a very low cure rate. Then in 2013, Gilead, a U.S. pharmaceutical company, announced that it had found an effective cure. Everybody celebrated until they heard the price of the treatment. The new cure was unaffordable for most people.
A year later, the company licensed various Indian companies to create a generic version, which could be sold at a fraction of the original price. But this could only be legally made available in low-income countries.
Patients in places such as Australia, Europe and North America deemed the measure unfair and formed networks to be able to import the generic drug illegally from India.
One Australian man in his 60s had a tough decision to make. He was getting over 200 emails a day from people who needed the medication and couldn’t afford the asking price of $80,000 and were interested in getting the generic version. He was more than happy to help them out but if he continued to import the medication illegally he could end up in prison. If he didn’t a lot of people would die.
To this man, Greg Jefferys, the Australian medical system failed those patients suffering from hepatitis C by not providing medication they can afford. Greg discovered he had hepatitis C in his 50s. Apparently he contracted the disease back in his twenties when he used intravenous drugs.
When the new treatment came out in 2014, the joy quickly turned to outrage as patients lost hope in ever getting cured. The pharmaceutical giant set the price of treatment at approximately $1,000 for a pill that cost only about $0.50 to make. That’s what led Greg Jefferys to become a hepatitis activist. What would you have done? Find out more now.