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Merck launches HCV awareness campaign

Merck has launched a new programme to increase awareness and diagnosis of hepatitis C virus, while Endo Pharmaceuticals has initiated a pain awareness campaign for sufferers of osteoarthritis

Merck has launched a new education and support programme to increase awareness and diagnosis of hepatitis C virus (HCV), while Endo Pharmaceuticals has kicked off an awareness campaign designed to encourage sufferers of osteoarthritis (OA) to make treating their pain a priority.

Merck's effort, called Hope Against Hepatitis C, includes a wide range of public education and patient support programs, as well as research programmes to help improve care for people living with chronic HCV infection.

According to Merck, about 60 to 80 per cent of people infected with chronic HCV do not have symptoms and so often go undiagnosed and continue to transmit the disease to others. Lack of treatment can have serious consequences, as chronic HCV infection can eventually lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and liver cancer.

As part of the campaign, Merck has debuted a new consumer education website to provide information about the risks of chronic HCV infection. The site includes a risk factor questionnaire that patients can use to assess their risk for infection with chronic HCV, as well as a list of questions that users can print out and take to their doctor's office.

The company is also participating in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition, providing support for key research and programmes at the CDC through grants to the CDC Foundation. In addition, Merck is sponsoring the expansion of the American Liver Foundation's Treatment Choices Initiative, which includes community-based education programmes centered around perspectives from healthcare providers and from individuals who are infected with chronic HCV.

Merck is currently moving its investigational hepatitis C therapy Victrelis (boceprevir) through the US regulatory process. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously in support of recommending marketing approval for the HCV protease inhibitor.

Meanwhile, Endo Pharmaceuticals' OA campaign is called "Apply Yourself!" and features the former US professional basketball player Allan Houston. The campaign, which supports Endo's topical NSAID Voltaren Gel (diclofenac sodium), is designed “to encourage people suffering from osteoarthritis hand and knee pain to make pain relief a top personal priority.” 

Houston's story will serve as an illustration of the consequences of putting off treatment. “The athlete, who was accustomed to regular physical activity, began to experience pain in his knees after games and intense workouts. He reasoned this was a temporary setback and decided to ignore his pain rather than to address it head on. The pain eventually became too much, which caused Allan to retire,” according to Endo. Houston was eventually diagnosed with OA and prescribed Voltaren.

10th May 2011

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