From the Editor's Desk: The People Challenge
The explosion in drug discovery around hepatitis B is truly exciting,
yet challenging, with more than 30 new hepatitis B drugs in the
pipeline. There is great expectation, and great optimism that highly
effective new therapies will be available to manage chronic HBV infection over the next five years.
One of the most serious challenges in the development of new
therapies, however, is finding people for the clinical trials. The problem seems paradoxical. There are more than 240 million people chronically infected with HBV worldwide, of which 2 million live in the U.S. But identifying those eligible and willing to enter clinical trials is a significant obstacle.
In the U.S., most patients do not know they are infected, and those who have been diagnosed are generally being treated already. Outside the U.S., the barriers are identifying patients and finding
providers or medical centers that are able to conduct rigorous clinical trials.
To ensure the success of future hepatitis B clinical trials, programs are needed to improve hepatitis B screening and care. For example, Hep B United, the national coalition we started in 2012 that is focused on building community coalitions to increase screening rates (p. 6), and our new Patient Storytelling Campaign that is working with groups to use personal stories to raise the
visibility of hepatitis B in high-risk communities and, thereby, stimulate testing.
For the past 25 years, the Hepatitis B Foundation has found success in overcoming obstacles through partnerships. To paraphrase an African proverb, “To go fast, go alone; to go further, go together.” Working together will be the key to solving the current people challenge for moving promising hepatitis B drugs into human clinical trials … and ultimately, a cure.