From a demonstration in July, 2013, to demand cheaper hepatitis C treatment. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–From March 1, 2013, medical treatment for hepatitis C will be free for prisoners in Georgia. Other people with the illness will be able to buy medicines for 60 percent lower price.

The Health Ministry on Thursday presented its hepatitis C treatment project, at an event attended by the minister of health, the prison minister and representatives from the government office.

The project will span 2014 and 2015, during which time the government will provide free diagnostics and treatment for 1 000 prisoners, starting March 1. The Health Ministry will spend 158.57 lari (USD 91) on Inteferon per prisoner. This price is 60 percent cheaper than the current price in Georgia.

About 10 000 other patients will be able to buy the medicine for the same price from July 1.

Minister of Health Davit Sergeenko said patients will be able to register from February 1. The criteria for being included in the program are that the person is a citizen of Georgia or a temporary citizen and has a diagnose and an approved prescription.

The Health Ministry also plans to vaccinate 5 000 prisoners against hepatitis B, while 12 000 prisoners will be examined.

According to the minister, a hepatitis C patient today has to pay USD 13 000 for a 48-week treatment. With the new project, the same treatment will cost them about USD 4 000.