Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
For years India has been recognized in the “medical travel world” as a destination to obtain quality care at much lower rates, compared to other countries around the world. Now, in addition to low cost procedures, the highly sought after cure for hepatitis C can be obtained in India for a fraction of the cost elsewhere, boosting India’s attractiveness for medical travel.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 130-150 million people worldwide have chronic hepatitis C and 700,000 people die each year from hepatitis C related liver diseases.
While hepatitis C does not always require treatment, as some people are able to clear the disease on their own, in many cases treatment is essential to avoid the number of complications resulting from the infection.
The proven, most effective and efficient treatment derives from the drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni. In most countries around the world these drugs are prohibitively expensive and many simply cannot afford to pay the cost. In the U.S. the treatment regimen can cost $84,000 USD or more and insurance companies do not usually cover the costs until the patient has already developed severe complications.
Hepatitis C Treatment in India
In April, Indian drug manufacturing companies received a patent for producing the generic versions of Sovaldi and Harvoni. The generic version of these drugs are available in cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai at the cost of Rs70,000 or around $1,000 USD, for the entire treatment regimen.
With the recent availability of these drugs, patients are flocking to India from countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Middle East, Yemen and Iraq.
Dr. Vidyasagar Ramappa, consultant gastroenterologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, reported that approximately 40 percent of the patients he treats for hepatitis C are from outside India. Dr. Nikhil Bondare, another gastroenterologist from Narayana Health City, reported that he treats at least two new hepatitis C patients from abroad every day.
Due to the availability of this low-cost alternative for those afflicted with hepatitis C, these cities in India will likely begin to attract a substantial increase in patients travelling from countries throughout the world.