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Antiviral drug for hepatitis C carriers

SWISS pharmaceutical giant Roche announced to cooperate with Ascletis, a bio-tech company in Zhejiang Province, to jointly develop and commercialize Roche's hepatitis C medicine, danoprevir, in China.

It will be the first antiviral drug for hepatitis C in a country with about 10 million hepatitis C patients, the companies said in Hangzhou yesterday.

"The treatment rate of hepatitis C is as low as 2 percent in China due to low awareness among the public and medical professionals," said Dr Zhuang Hui from Peking University's Health Science Center.

"Surveys found 90 percent of Chinese don't know about hepatitis C and 50 percent of the infection cases are not reported, much lower than other infectious diseases due to medical workers' low awareness."

"Antiviral medicine is an effective therapy and we hope it can be made available to the Chinese patients as early as possible," Zhuang said.

Experts said fatalities caused by hepatitis C have outnumbered that by AIDS.


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