Georgia signed agreement with Gilead Sciences (Health Ministry Photo)

Georgia signed agreement with Gilead Sciences (Health Ministry Photo)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia has launched a project aimed at assisting people with hepatitis C after signing an agreement with the American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences on April 21.

The government claims that the disease will be eradicated in Georgia within three to five years.

Gilead Sciences wants to use Georgia as a testbed by distributing drugs to patients for free. The government wants to offer this free treatment for affected people, while the government plans to pay 70 percent of the diagnosis cost for socially vulnerable people.

Reuters reported earlier that Gilead wants to test the recently approved pill Sovaldi, and a new one called Harvoni, on patients in Georgia.

About a hundred thousand people may be included in the trial, and according to Health Minister Davit Sergeenko, every person in Georgia with hepatitis C will be able to get free treatment.

The cost for diagnosis is GEL 480 (USD 212), Sergeenko said after signing the agreement with the company in Tbilisi on April 21, and after the government covers its 70 percent, there will be 144 lari left for the patient to cover. He said each patient will have to cover only 144 out of the whole treatment which costs USD 100,000.

Registration of patients launched on April 22 all around the country.

A government commission has been set up to decide whom to include in the government program and the commission includes doctors, non-governmental organizations, partners of the American company, journalists and patients.

The minister says treatment will be offered to the most seriously affected patients, and the first 8,000 bottles of the medicine will be shipped at the end of this week.

According to the most recent data from the HIV/AIDS Center and Clinic Immunology Center, there are about 120,000 people who have the disease in Georgia.