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Unmet Need in Hepatitis C Gets Boost from Innovative Partnership

October 23, 2013

Boehringer Ingelheim makes significant investment in groundbreaking
hepatitis C program with two leading researchers from the Francis
Family Liver Clinic, Toronto Western Hospital University Health Network

BURLINGTON, ON, Oct. 23, 2013 /CNW/ – In a move to address a significant
unmet need in hepatitis C in Canada, the University Health Network
(UHN), together with Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. (BICL), announced today a multi-year
partnership that aims to improve care, education and support for
patients with hepatitis C. The program, known as Link-C, aims to
improve access to hepatitis C care and treatment in remote areas of
Ontario and other parts of Canada.

A large number of Canadians with hepatitis C remain undiagnosed.
According to a single estimate, 21 per cent of Canadians infected with
hepatitis C remain undiagnosed, however, some experts believe that this
figure may be higher.(i)In addition, many Canadians, particularly those living in remote areas,
lack access to local care and treatment.(ii) While hepatitis C is an infection that can be cured, hepatitis C
treatment and management is highly specialized and available from a
limited group of health care providers with such expertise.(iii)

The UHN/BICL partnership, which is supported through a $600,000 grant
from BICL, is designed to support and motivate additional health care
providers in rural areas to develop the expertise necessary to treat
the disease. These funds will be focused on training physicians to
actively engage and inform patients about the risk factors and optimal
treatment options. Furthermore, the program will also inform
recommendations for an optimal screening program.

“We recognize that an alarming number of Canadians lack timely access to
hepatitis C care, which is why we’ve developed the Link-C program,”
said Dr. Jordan Feld, Francis Family Liver Clinic, Toronto Western
Hospital, a part of the University Health Network. “The diagnosis can
be life-changing, yet there is a gap in awareness among patients and
caregivers about the disease itself, its implications and treatment
options. Link-C will bring education and support to more health care
professionals so that we can improve care for the men and women with
hepatitis C in Canada.”

Hepatitis C affects at least 240,000 Canadians with some estimates as
high as 400,000.( iv) Left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to scarring of the liver, liver
failure and potentially liver cancer.(v) As there are a limited number of physicians who treat hepatitis C,
patients can experience lengthy wait times.(vi) The goal of Link-C is to broaden the pool of health care professionals
with expertise in hepatitis C, thereby increasing the number of health
care professionals who can diagnose, treat and manage the disease.

“In addition to equipping additional health care providers with the
expertise to identify and treat hepatitis C, Link-C will also engage
and inform patients about the risk factors, symptoms and treatment
options,” said Dr. Hemant Shah, Director of Education, Francis Family
Liver Clinic, Toronto Western Hospital. “Ultimately, I think a program
like Link-C will help build towards a national screening program.
Hepatitis C is the only chronic viral infection that is curable, so the
more we can provide access to information and education for patients
and caregivers, the more effective we will be at ensuring that patients
can deal with and manage this condition before it yields further and
much more serious complications such as liver failure and cancer.”

According to data from 2009, approximately 10,000 to 12,000 new cases of
hepatitis C are diagnosed in Canada each year.(vii) Increasing the number of health care providers who can treat and manage
hepatitis C will help diagnose and cure the growing number of patients
living with this disease.

Boehringer Ingelheim is working with hepatitis C experts to address the
unmet medical need of many Canadians with this disease. “As a leader in
advanced therapeutics for infectious diseases, including hepatitis C,
Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. could not be more pleased to be
partnering with the University Health Network on this program to
address a significant area of unmet need facing hepatitis C patients,”
said Dr. Ted Witek, president and CEO, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada)
Ltd . “We are delighted to be supporting the Link-C program, which will
address some of the critical barriers to better care for both patients
with hepatitis C and those who treat it.”

About Link-C

The Link-C program is composed of three pillars:

        --  Increase the number of primary care providers treating
            hepatitis C outside of urban centres so that patients in remote
            areas can be treated locally.
        --  Encourage patients to be screened and diagnosed, educate them
            about the symptoms and treatments available for hepatitis C,
            and involve them in the management of their care.
        --  Inform recommendations for an effective screening protocol for
            hepatitis C through the review and analysis of diagnostic,
            cancer and patient outcome data.

About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infectious disease and a leading cause of
chronic liver disease, transplant and failure that affects as many as
150 million people globally.(viii) In Canada, an estimated 240,000 individuals, with some estimates as
high as 400,000 are infected with the disease.(ix) The Canadian Liver Foundation estimates that since 2007 approximately
500 people die from hepatitis C-related illnesses in Canada each year.(x) The number of hepatitis C-associated illnesses, including cirrhosis,
liver failure, liver death and the need for liver transplants will
likely double or triple in the next decade.(xi)

About University Health Network

University Health Network includes Toronto General and Toronto Western
Hospitals, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and Toronto Rehabilitation
Institute. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University
Health Network has made it a national and international source for
discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest
hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in
cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, neurology, oncology,
surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and
rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research
hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. For more
information, please go to www.uhn.ca.

About Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.

The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading
pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it
operates globally with 145 affiliates and more than 44,000 employees.

Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been
committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel
products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.
As a central element of its culture, Boehringer Ingelheim pledges to
act socially responsible. Involvement in social projects, caring for
employees and their families, and providing equal opportunities for all
employees form the foundation of the global operations. Mutual
cooperation and respect, as well as environmental protection and
sustainability are intrinsic factors in all of Boehringer Ingelheim’s
endeavours.

In 2011, Boehringer Ingelheim posted net sales of 13.2 billion euro
while spending almost 24% of net sales in its largest business segment
Prescription Medicines on research and development.

The Canadian headquarters of Boehringer Ingelheim was established in
1972 and is home to more than 750 employees across the country. For
more information please visit www.boehringer-ingelheim.ca.

References

________________________

(i) Shah, H.A. et al. A Canadian screening program for hepatitis C: Is now
the time? CMAJ. 2013.

(ii) Ontario Hepatitis C Task Force. A proposed strategy to address
hepatitis C in Ontario 2009-2014. 2009.

(iii) Myers, R. et al. An update on the management of chronic hepatitis C:
Consensus guidelines from the Canadian Association for the Study of the
Liver. Can J Gastroenterol, Vol. 26, No 6, June 2012.

(iv) Sherman, M et al. Liver disease in Canada: A crisis in the making.
Report by Canadian Liver Foundation. From web site. 2013.

(v) Sherman, M et al. Liver disease in Canada: A crisis in the making.
Report by Canadian Liver Foundation. From web site. 2013.

(vi) Myers, R. et al. An update on the management of chronic hepatitis C:
Consensus guidelines from the Canadian Association for the Study of the
Liver. Can J Gastroenterol, Vol. 26, No 6, June 2012.

(vii) Sherman, M et al. Liver disease in Canada: A crisis in the making.
Report by Canadian Liver Foundation. From web site. 2013.

(viii) Hepatitis C. World Health Organization. From web, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/. Accessed October 11, 2013.

(ix) Sherman, M et al. Liver disease in Canada: A crisis in the making.
Report by Canadian Liver Foundation. From web site. 2013.

(x) Sherman, M et al. Liver disease in Canada: A crisis in the making.
Report by Canadian Liver Foundation. From web site.

(xi) Zou, S. et al. Epidemiology and Health Care Planning: Estimating the
Burden of Hepatitis C in Canada. Health Canada.

SOURCE Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.


Source: PR Newswire