New report calls for universal vaccination for hepatitis to reduce the crippling economic burden of the disease

(Vienna, July 28, 2016) To coincide with World Hepatitis Day, a new report, commissioned by United European Gastroenterology (UEG), calls for all European countries to adopt universal vaccination and harmonised screening programmes for hepatitis, as well as improved neonatal screening, to help speed up the eradication of the disease.

Almost 30 million people in the EU suffer from a chronic liver condition, one of the primary causes of which is hepatitis infection. Many of those with a chronic liver condition will have suffered since childhood and will require a lifetime of care at considerable economic cost. 

“Paediatric liver disease is becoming increasingly common in young children and, more importantly, chronic liver diseases in children represent a rising problem, with significant effects on public health and economic burden throughout Europe”, explains UEG liver expert, Helena Cortez-Pinto. “We urgently need to find a cost effective solution to control the spread of hepatitis and reduce the socio-economic burden of the disease and medical opinion suggests that the best solution in the current environment would be the adoption of universal vaccination for hepatitis B, and screening of high-risk groups”. Although the incidence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has declined significantly since the implementation of universal immunisation programmes in several countries, several member states still do not carry out routine childhood vaccination programmes and a significant number of children are still infected each year. In addition, there is no vaccine yet against Hepatitis C and infection rates continue to rise in Europe, with diagnosis rates rising by a third in England and considerably higher rates being recorded in southern Europe, including Italy, Romania and Spain. Both viruses not only cause severely impaired quality of life and developmental delay but also carry significant risk of cirrhosis and cancer. The European Liver Patients’ Association (ELPA), warns of the financial impact of liver disease, specifically hepatitis, in their “White Paper Project – the socio-economic burden of hepatitis in Europe” and urges policy makers to consider that early screening and prevention would actually help save EU resources in the long-term. In support of World Hepatitis Day, the World Hepatitis Alliance launches its new campaign ‘#NOhep’ which aims to eradicate viral hepatitis by 2030. The Alliance estimates that more than 7 million lives could be saved worldwide by 2030 if universal vaccination programmes were introduced. For further information, go to worldhepatitisday.org/. View 'Paediatric Digestive Health Across Europe'   Notes to Editors About UEG UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Find out more by visiting www.ueg.eu To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:
  • UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world. 
  • NOW OPEN FOR PRESS REGISTRATION
  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations
  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe
  • About World Hepatitis Day
Organised by The World Hepatitis Alliance to eradicate hepatitis. For further information on the Alliance visit www.worldhepatitisalliance.org. Contact Information For further information about the UEG report, UEG’s activities relating to hepatitis or to speak to a paediatric liver expert please contact Luke Paskins at UEG on +44 (0)1444 811099 or email media@ueg.eu References
  1. United European Gastroenterology. Paediatric Health Across Europe. 2016
  2. European Liver Patients Association. 2005 [cited; Available from: http://www.elpa-info.org/]
  3. Public Health England. 2013
  4. ECDC – Hepatitis B and C. Current situation in the EU/EEA
  5. El-Shabrawi MH, Kamal NM. Burden of Pediatric hepatitis C. World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Nov 28; 19 (44): 7880-7888

Children’s digestive health across Europe in crisis

(Brussels, 31 May, 2016) A report investigating the current state of digestive health in children has revealed alarming trends in disease incidence and inequalities in the provision of digestive healthcare services for children across Europe. 

‘Paediatric Digestive Health Across Europe’, commissioned by United European Gastroenterology (UEG), is published today and highlights how the current health burden and economic pressure of paediatric digestive health issues, in particular the increasing levels of childhood obesity, have become a pandemic issue throughout the continent.  The report canvasses the opinion of a number of paediatric GI specialists, including experts from UEG and current and past presidents of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), who highlight three particular areas of digestive health that show worrying trends and require urgent action. These include:  
  • In 46 European countries, one in every three children aged 6-9 years is now overweight or obese
  • Childhood onset of inflammatory bowel disease now accounts for 20-30% of all IBD cases
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has become the most common cause of chronic liver disease among children and adolescents in Western countries, with cases documented in children as young as 3 years old
Commenting on the current state of paediatric digestive health care in Europe, Professor Michael Manns, President of UEG, explains; “Across Europe we have leading paediatric experts and many centres of excellence. However, these are not widespread and currently cannot meet the needs of children throughout the continent. This has an impact on not just individuals and their families but on society and wider health service provision”. A call for change across Europe One of the main findings in the report is that many areas of digestive health follow a ‘one size fits all’ approach with many children following adult care pathways. Professor Berthold Koletzko, President of ESPGHAN, comments; “It is important for stakeholders and policy makers to appreciate that children have complex physical, psychological and social needs and these must be met by trained paediatric specialists to improve the accessibility of optimal care for children today and in future generations”. The report calls for urgent attention and resource investment in paediatric digestive health treatments and services to improve the prognosis for children who suffer from varying digestive health conditions.  A 6 point action plan, targeting key policy makers, stakeholders and health service providers, is outlined within the report to help encourage and deliver change and improve paediatric care across Europe. The 6 key actions are:  
  1. Further development of national strategies and public health campaigns for education, prevention and early intervention
  2. Improve and harmonise training standards through the development of a pan-European digestive health syllabus
  3. Enhance paediatric subspecialty training to understand the complex physical, psychological and social needs of children
  4. Develop transition services as patients move from teenage to adult care
  5. Encourage further research into childhood digestive diseases and early life programming to enable improved prevention strategies
  6. Further development of specialised centres for the optimal management of children with digestive diseases
The report will be issued to European policy makers today at the European Parliament, who will meet with leading health experts to discuss the latest research and areas for development examined in the review. The report is unveiled as part of UEG’s Digestive Health Month to raise awareness of digestive health issues across the continent. “In spite of 20% of the European population being children and the incidence of gastrointestinal diseases increasing, it is extremely worrying that only 1 out of 58 topics currently receiving EU research funding is focused on paediatric health” explains Professor Koletzko. “Priorities need to change quickly to appreciate the specific issues of paediatric digestive provision and ensure greater investment into prevention, cost-effective diagnostic measures and harmonised training”. Professor Manns adds; “UEG hope this report will encourage policy makers, stakeholders and health service providers to adopt the recommendations and prioritise the development of specific paediatric focused strategies for improving the digestive health of children today and for future generations”.

Access the report

Notes to Editors About UEG UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Find out more by visiting www.ueg.eu To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including: 
  • UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world. 
  • NOW OPEN FOR PRESS REGISTRATION
  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations
  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe
About the Report Commissioned by UEG, Paediatric Digestive Health Across Europe, is a report that highlights the current levels of quality in paediatric digestive health throughout Europe, the current state of service provision and the potential impact on longer-term health outcomes and economies. The opinions of leading gastroenterologists and patient organisations have been utilised to help identify priority areas for improvement both now and in the future. Other key trends raised in the report include: 
  • It is predicted that the global number of children under five who are overweight will rise from the current 41 million to 70 million by 2025
  • The high cost of treating obesity and related disorders now represents up to 10% of total healthcare costs and threatens the sustainability of public healthcare systems across Europe
  • Delays in diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease are taking up to 5 years for 18% of under 18’s
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease prevalence continues to rise among paediatric patients, affecting up to 10% of Europe’s paediatric population
UEG Digestive Health Month The first UEG Digestive Health month, organised by United European Gastroenterology (UEG), has taken place throughout May. Held to raise awareness of digestive health conditions in Europe and highlight opportunities to help advance the treatment and prevention of related diseases, activity has featured on social media via the hashtag #DigestiveHealthMonth Contact Information For further information about the report and UEG’s activities, or to speak to a paediatric digestive health expert please contact Luke Paskins at UEG on +44 (0)1444 811099 or email media@ueg.eu References 
  1. http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/policy
  2. United European Gastroenterology Journal: (1) Farthing M, Roberts S, Samuel D, Williams D, et al, Survey of digestive health across Europe: Final report. Part 1: The burden of gastrointestinal diseases and the organisation and delivery of gastroenterology services across Europe, 2014 2: 539-543
  3. Day CP. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a massive problem. Clin Med. 2011; 11:176-178
  4. 1000 Days: http://thousanddays.org/the-issue/obesity/
  5. Early Nutrition Project: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/research/divisions/wh/newsevents/newsarchive/earlynutritionfactsheet.pdf
  6. B. Wilson, S. Lönnfors, S. Vermeire. The true impact of IBD: a European Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis patient life. IMPACT Survey 2010-2011 http://efcca.org/media/files/press-Join-Fight/3PRESS_KIT_IBD_IMPACT_REPORT_BCN.pdf
  7. http://www.childliverdisease.org/News/Research-funded-by-Birmingham-charity-identifies-genetic-variant-in-childhood-liver-disease-

Public at risk due to current medical practices for the detection of hepatitis C infection

(July 27, 2015) Tackling the hepatitis C virus (HCV) ‘pandemic’ is now seen as a key public health priority as approximately 60% of all diagnosed patients in Europe remain untreated, with the risk of late diagnosis potentially leading to liver cirrhosis and cancer. This is despite new European treatment guidelines advocating targeted screening for HCV infection and the use of new direct-acting antiviral agents in preference to the older interferon-based regimens.

To coincide with World Hepatitis Day on July 28 2015, United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Vice President and liver specialist, Professor Michael Manns, calls for improvements in national strategies for HCV screening and treatment to ensure that more people are diagnosed as early as possible and have the best possible chance of a cure. “Current treatment regimens for HCV infection can eradicate the virus in up to 100% of people treated, depending on the type of virus, the drug combination used, and the general health of the individual,” says Prof. Manns. “With possible cure rates as high as these, we have the potential to eradicate this infection, preventing many cases of chronic liver disease, and saving thousands of lives.” The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) has recently published guidelines for the treatment of HCV infection that recommend that screening for HCV infection should be implemented in targeted populations defined according to local infection trends, ideally within the framework of national plans. The guidelines recognise the differences in healthcare funding across Europe, but aim to harmonise HCV treatment across its different countries and regions. “These new guidelines include recommendations for the use of the newer treatments that, cost issues aside, should ideally replace the older interferon-based regimens,” says Prof. Manns. “Our universal goals, which are reflected in these European guidelines, should be to identify and cure as many people as possible with chronic HCV infection, thereby preventing its spread and limiting its serious health consequences.” It has been estimated that approximately 9 million people in Europe are chronically infected with HCV, with 86,000 HCV-related deaths occurring in Europe each year1. Chronic HCV infection ­frequently leads to liver damage and cirrhosis that may progress into liver cancer. The UEG Survey of Digestive Health Across Europe reports that in western Europe HCV leads to 40% of all cases of liver cirrhosis and 60% of all cases of hepatocellular cancer. Unfortunately, receiving a diagnosis of HCV infection does not guarantee access to treatment. A recent systematic review of the European literature found that HCV treatment rates varied by country, with the lowest rates reported in Eastern and North-West Europe (e.g. UK, Russia) and the highest rates reported in Italy. Barriers to treatment in those with a diagnosis include a failure to seek treatment, a lack of financial resources and ongoing injection drug or alcohol abuse”. Studies have also found that the single most important barrier to HCV treatment is a lack of awareness, with up to 75% of people living with chronic HCV infection unaware that they have the infection. Notes to Editors About UEG UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:
  • UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world. MEDIA REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations
  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe 
Find out more about UEG’s work by visiting www.ueg.eu or contact: Luke Paskins on +44 (0)1444 811099 or media@ueg.eu References 1.     Papatheodoridis GV, Tsochartzis E, Hardtke S, et al. Liver Int 2014;34(10):1452­­–63. 2.     www.easl.eu - European Association for the Study of the Liver. J Hepatol 2015;63(1):199–236. 3.     Roberts SE, Samuel DG, Williams JG, et al. Survey of Digestive Health across Europe. Part one: The burden of gastrointestinal diseases and the organisation and delivery of gastroenterology services across Europe. Report for United European Gastroenterology. October 2014 4.     McGowan CE, Fried MW. Liver Int 2012;32(Suppl 1):151­–56.

Make your call for gastrointestinal and liver disease research funding before EU budget cuts.

(Vienna, February 13, 2015) With recent plans to cut billions from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 funding programme, United European Gastroenterology (UEG) is urgently calling on the GI community to apply now for much needed research funding.

 According to the results of UEG’s major ‘Survey of Digestive Health Across Europe', gastrointestinal (GI) and liver diseases remain one of the most common causes of death and hospitalisation in Europe and are responsible for almost 500,000 deaths per year in Europe alone. “Although GI and liver diseases are on the increase and draining European healthcare resources, gastroenterology gets relatively little attention from a policy perspective compared with other specialities. However, research is essential to facilitate the development of more effective treatments and to improve mortality rates,” explains Professor Farthing.
Horizon 2020 is the European Union's biggest ever research programme with nearly 80 billion of overall funding available from 2014 to 2020. In spite of the EU Commission's proposal to cut billions from Horizon 2020's €24 billion scientific research programme, a healthy €154,000,000 is still available specifically for research grants on the topic of 'FET-Open- Novel ideas for radically new technologies'. “However, the deadline is looming with a call for proposals by 31st March 2015 so scientists need to take prompt action to develop steering groups and submit their application,” urges UEG President, Professor Michael Farthing.
“Gastrointestinal disorders remain a major threat to public health and it is important for medical research policies to respond to such threats;” adds Professor Michael Manns, UEG Vice President. To maximise the chance of a successful application, UEG advises scientists to consider the following 3 key points before submitting their proposal:
Commission’s priorities - does their work fit within the EU Commission's guidelines?
Organisation’s capabilities - can their organisation realistically manage and deliver the proposal? Economical and social impact - will their work provide return on investment and reduce the economic and social burden?
Further information and guidelines on the application process can be found at: www.ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/funding. Notes to Editors: Available for interview Professor Michael Farthing, UEG President; Professor Michael Manns, UEG Vice President Press contact Samantha Forster media@ueg.eu Tel:+44(0)1444811099 @UEGMedia Further information for Horizon 2020 Funding Applications is available at: General Information and Funding Opportunities - Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation - Horizon 2020 How to get Funding - Horizon 2020 About UEG United European Gastroenterology is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. Find out more about UEG's work at www.ueg.eu UEG Survey of Digestive Health Across Europe The Survey of Digestive Health Across Europe was commissioned by UEG in the spring of 2013 at the request of its own Future Trends Committee. An experienced research group from Swansea University in Wales, UK, initiated a detailed assessment of digestive health across Europe, focussing on the clinical and economic burden of disease and the organisation and delivery of gastroenterology services across 28 European Union (EU) member states, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Russia. The aim of the survey was to draw together all the available evidence and provide up-to-date information on the human health consequences and public health burden of GI disorders. References 1. Roberts SE, Samuel DG, Williams JG, et al. Survey of Digestive Health across Europe. Part one: The burden of gastrointestinal diseases and the organisation and delivery of gastroenterology services across Europe. Report for United European Gastroenterology. October 2014. 2. Anderson P, Dalziel K, Davies E et al. Survey of Digestive Health across Europe. Part two: The economic impact and burden of gastrointestinal diseases across Europe. Report for United European Gastroenterology. October 2014.

Survey reveals changing trends and inequalities in healthcare provision for GI disorders across Europe.

(Vienna, October 20, 2014) A major pan-European survey into the burden of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and the delivery of care has revealed changing trends in many important GI and liver diseases and worrying inequalities in the provision of healthcare services across the continent.

The results of the survey, which was commissioned by United European Gastroenterology (UEG), have been announced today and led to calls for greater political and public awareness of the burden of GI disorders across Europe and for more funding to be made available to improve service provision and support Europe-wide research.

“This extensive survey has highlighted major differences between countries in terms of both the risk of developing GI disorders and their long-term health outcomes,” said UEG President, Professor Michael Farthing. “We are particularly concerned about the increasing incidence of most major GI disorders across Europe and the clear differences in outcomes for patients between Eastern and Western nations.” Survey of Digestive Health Across Europe1,2 The Survey of Digestive Health Across Europe was commissioned by UEG in the spring of 2013 at the request of its own Future Trends Committee. Experienced research teams from the College of Medicine at Swansea University in Wales, UK, initiated a detailed assessment of digestive health across Europe, focussing on the clinical and economic burden of disease and the organisation and delivery of gastroenterology services across 28 European Union (EU) member states, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Russia. The aim of the survey was draw to together all the available evidence and provide up-to-date information on the human health consequences and public health burden of GI disorders. “Gastroenterology is a medical specialty that gets relatively little attention from a policy perspective compared with other specialties and attracts minimal independent research funding,” said Professor Farthing. “We wanted to take a long, hard look at the situation today across Europe in order to ensure we prioritise our efforts where it is needed most.” Changing trends in GI disorders The Digestive Health survey revealed a number of evolving trends in terms of the incidence and prevalence of GI disorders. According to the survey results, most European countries have witnessed increases in the incidence of major GI disorders such as upper GI bleeding, inflammatory bowel disease [IBD], coeliac disease, alcoholic liver disease, gallstone disease, and colorectal and oesophageal cancer, with disease rates highest amongst older people. Incidence or prevalence rates were found to be higher in most Eastern European countries compared with other regions in Europe, with mortality from  GI disorders (other than cancer and infectious diseases) highest in Eastern and North Eastern countries and lowest in parts of Scandinavia and the Mediterranean Islands. GI cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death in Europe, and while mortality rates for colorectal cancer (CRC) have fallen for several decades in almost all Western, Northern and Central European countries, rates continue to rise in many parts of Eastern Europe and some parts of Southern Europe. “We need to look more closely at the reasons behind these worrying statistics and find ways to overcome the regional differences observed and reduce the growing burden of GI cancers,” said Professor Farthing. Inequalities in healthcare provision          The survey identified major inequalities in healthcare provision across Europe. While CRC screening programmes are now well established in most European countries, participation rates vary widely and there is no standardised approach to screening. Upper GI bleeding is managed variably across Europe, with a lack of consensus on best practice. Endoscopy services are patchy and not currently viewed as a priority by policymakers, which could have serious implications for meeting future service demands. Training of medical students in gastroenterology varies between countries and is poorly documented. “This survey was wide-ranging and has highlighted some areas of good practice, but many areas that require attention at both a national and European level,” said Professor Farthing. “Our hope is that, ultimately, the survey and the reports generated will help to improve care and health outcomes and reduce inequalities across the continent.” References 1.     Roberts SE, Samuel DG, Williams JG, et al. Survey of Digestive Health across Europe. Part one: The burden of gastrointestinal diseases and the organisation and delivery of gastroenterology services across Europe. Report for United European Gastroenterology. October 2014. 2.     Anderson P, Fitzsimmons D, Hale J, et al.. Survey of Digestive Health across Europe. Part two: The economic impact and burden of gastrointestinal diseases across Europe. Report for United European Gastroenterology. October 2014. Notes to Editors About UEG Week UEG Week is the largest and most prestigious gastroenterology meeting in Europe and has developed into a global congress. It attracts over 14,000 participants each year, from more than 120 countries, and numbers are steadily rising. UEG Week provides a forum for basic and clinical scientists from across the globe to present their latest research in digestive and liver diseases, and also features a two-day postgraduate course that brings together top lecturers in their fields for a weekend of interactive learning. From October 18-22, 2014, UEG will connect everyone to its annual meeting via livestream on www.ueg.eu. State-of-the-art lectures of Europe’s largest GI meeting may be followed online from around the world. Include #UEGWeek in your tweets. UEG Week 24/7 features all recorded sessions from UEG Week and provides convenient and direct access to the complete congress material, including E-posters and abstracts. About UEG UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives besides UEG Week, including: · UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion · Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations · UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology · EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe Find out more about UEG’s work. Visit www.ueg.eu Follow UEG on Twitter @my_ueg and @UEGMedia Press Contacts Samantha Forster Email: media@ueg.eu Tel: +44 (0)1444 811099 Press Release Translations Download press release Download der Pressemitteilung Descarga nota de prensa Télécharger le communiqué de presse Download comunicato stampa Download プレスリリース Download 新闻稿 

New pill-only regimens cure patients with hardest-to-treat hepatitis C infection.

(Vienna, October 17, 2014) Two new pill-only regimens that rapidly cure most patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C (HCV) infection could soon be widely prescribed across Europe. Two recently-published studies confirmed the efficacy and safety of combination therapy with two oral direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs), with around 90% of patients cured after just 12-weeks of treatment.

At the 22nd United European Gastroenterology Week (UEG Week 2014) in Vienna, Austria, Professor Michael P. Manns from Hannover Medical School in Germany will be presenting this data and says this represents a massive step forward in the treatment of this life-threatening infection. “These new pill-only regimens have the potential to offer more effective, safer and faster virus eradication than current therapies, even in traditionally hard-to-cure patients,” he says. “We hope that a pill-only regimen will encourage more people to come forward and accept treatment so we can one day eradicate this deadly virus.” Burden of hepatitis C infection Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a global epidemic, with more than 180 million people thought to have chronic HCV infection worldwide. HCV genotype 1 represents the majority of infections in Europe and is considered the most difficult to cure. Until recently, the standard of care for chronic HCV genotype 1 infection involved a combination of drugs, was associated with severe side-effects and involved complicated injection and tablet regimens lasting up to 1 year. “These treatment regimens, although effective, are difficult to manage and poorly tolerated by many patients, and some clinicians won’t even use them,” says Prof. Manns. “We desperately need simpler treatment regimens that are highly effective, that can be used in more patients, and that do not cause such severe toxicity.” New pill-only regimens Two recently-published studies used different combinations of oral antivirals to treat patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection. In the first study – called the HALLMARK-DUAL study1 – 645 patients with HCV genotype 1b infection received an NS3 protease inhibitor twice-daily plus once-daily NS5A replication complex inhibitor or placebo. Twelve weeks after the end of a 24 week treatment period (the primary endpoint), the combination regimen had provided a sustained virological response (SVR) – which is considered a cure – in 90% of previously untreated patients and 82% of patients who had failed to respond to, or could not tolerate, their previous treatment. “This is a vast improvement over standard triple therapy, with efficacy observed across the board – even in patients with liver cirrhosis and those who have failed other treatments,” says Prof. Manns. “The combination treatment was also well tolerated by most patients.” In a second study – called the COSMOS study2 – 167 patients with HCV genotype 1a and 1b infection were randomized and treated with a second generation NS3/4A protease inhibitor once-daily plus a NS5B polymerase inhibitor once-daily with or without ribavirin. After 12 weeks of treatment, 93% of patients (including those with cirrhosis and interferon non-responders) had achieved an SVR. Again, the combination regimen was well tolerated, with less than 2% of patients reporting serious adverse events or withdrawing from treatment because of adverse events. “The results from these two studies suggest that interferon- and ribavirin- based treatment for chronic HCV infection may soon become a thing of the past,” says Prof. Manns. “With several more pill only regimens having also been reported this year, this is a key moment in the history of HCV treatment and represents an important step towards universally effective, needle-free treatments for HCV.”3,4,5.   References 1.     Manns M, et al. Lancet. E-Pub:Jul 26  2014 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61059-X 2.     Lawitz E, et al. The Lancet  2014: 383: 9916:515-523 3.     Afdhal N, et al,  NEJM 2014: 370:1483-149 4.     Feld J,  et al, NEJM  2014: 370:1594-603 5.     Sulkowski M, , NEJM 2014: 370:222-232 Notes to Editors About UEG Week UEG Week is the largest and most prestigious gastroenterology meeting in Europe and has developed into a global congress. It attracts over 14,000 participants each year, from more than 120 countries, and numbers are steadily rising. UEG Week provides a forum for basic and clinical scientists from across the globe to present their latest research in digestive and liver diseases, and also features a two-day postgraduate course that brings together top lecturers in their fields for a weekend of interactive learning. From October 18-22, 2014, UEG will connect everyone to its annual meeting via livestream on www.ueg.eu. State-of-the-art lectures of Europe’s largest GI meeting may be followed online from around the world. Include #UEGWeek in your tweets. UEG Week 24/7 features all recorded sessions from UEG Week and provides convenient and direct access to the complete congress material, including E-posters and abstracts. About UEG UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives besides UEG Week, including: · UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion · Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations · UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology · EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe Find out more about UEG’s work. Visit www.ueg.eu Follow UEG on Twitter @my_ueg and @UEGMedia Press Contacts Samantha Forster Email: media@ueg.eu Tel: +44 (0)1444 811099 Press Release Translations Download press release Download der Pressemitteilung Descarga nota de prensa Télécharger le communiqué de presse Download comunicato stampa Download プレスリリース Download 新闻稿 

World Hepatitis Day: Experts call for awareness of the ‘Silent Epidemic’ increasing the risk of liver cancer.

(July, 23, 2014) Ahead of World Hepatitis Day, 28th July 2014, United European Gastroenterology (UEG) call for greater awareness of the symptoms of hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that increases the risk of developing liver cancer.

78% of all primary liver cancer cases are associated with a prior hepatitis B or C infection1. Liver cancer is estimated to be responsible for 746,000 worldwide deaths each year, making it the second most common cause of cancer death2. Speaking on behalf of UEG, hepatology expert Professor Joost Drenth is calling for increased public awareness of hepatitis as controlling the deadly virus is currently proving to be a major challenge for health providers in the UK and across Europe. Professor Drenth explains “90% of people with hepatitis are unaware of their infection because it can remain asymptomatic for decades. Late diagnosis and insufficient access to effective new treatments leave many patients at risk of serious health complications including liver cancer and cirrhosis.” He adds, “Historically, people with the infection have been highly stigmatised as the virus is generally associated with intravenous drug use. However, for a majority of patients the route of infection is unknown. The virus is present in the blood and, to a much lesser extent, the saliva and semen or vaginal fluid of an infected person. GPs, sexual health clinics and GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics can all test for the disease via a simple blood test.” Professor Drenth explains the symptoms of hepatitis C which can include the following: Flu-like symptoms with increased aches, pains and headaches Extreme fatigue causing you to feel unable to perform certain tasks Depression and loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you normally enjoy Notes to Editors What is Hepatitis C? Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that predominantly infects the cells of the liver3. This can result in inflammation and significant damage4, which can affect the liver’s ability to perform its essential functions. Although it has always been regarded as a liver disease - ‘hepatitis’ means ‘inflammation of the liver’ - recent research has revealed that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects a number of other areas in the body. These can include the digestive system, the lymphatic system, the immune system and the brain. Recent research has also indicated that HCV destroys a key protective tumour-supressing gene5. The course of a chronic hepatitis C infection is extremely varied and unpredictable. Some people experience very few symptoms for as long as a decade, while others suffer symptoms almost from the start. Some will progress to develop fibrosis and cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer or end stage liver disease, while others experience very little liver damage, even after many years. In cases where there is an absence of symptoms, many people do not discover that they have HCV until sometime after they have been infected. About UEG UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Find out more about UEG’s work. Visit www.ueg.eu  Available for interview Professor Joost Drenth, European hepatitis and liver cancer expert Press contact Samantha Forster media@ueg.eu Tel: +44(0)1444 811099 @UEGMedia

Viral Hepatitis Infections Across Europe

Hepatitis is a viral infection most commonly contracted through unprotected sex, blood transmission, or perinatal transmission. Hepatitis B and C are the most common forms of the virus in Europe.