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Eradicating Hepatitis C and Fatty Liver Disease

August 7, 2019

VA Broadens Contract with Echosens to Include FibroScan mini+ portable Technology, Expands Access to Screening and Early Detection

“At the VA, it’s about providing our veteran patients access to the best care and the best outcome possible. People care at the VA!” — Dustin Lee, USMC scout sniper veteran

WALTHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Echosens, a high-technology company offering the FibroScan family of products, announces that its contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now includes the FibroScan™ 430 mini+ portable technology, improving access to non-invasive liver assessment and early detection of asymptomatic non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and its subtype non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Leaders at Echosens point to the success of the VA in reaching the goal of 100,000 veterans cured of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in as few as two months, and their current, ongoing efforts to tackle the epidemic of NAFLD, a potentially progressive liver disease that occurs in people with high blood sugar, obesity or high cholesterol. NAFLD is recognized as the most common chronic liver disease in the United States that can lead to cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), liver cancer, liver transplantation and death.

Dustin Lee, owner and president, Fidelis Sustainability Distribution, LLC, USMC scout sniper veteran and principal, states, “As a VA patient I have seen the VA firsthand target some of the major issues that are negatively affecting veterans today. Historically, hepatitis C provided one of the best examples to reference, and the large double-digit hepatitis C positive rates that the veteran population base had within its ranks.”

He says that following release of the drug to help cure the disease, the VA aggressively made the drug available and adopted the FibroScan noninvasive liver diagnostic devices nationally to help assess the patients’ liver conditions — without painful and time-consuming liver biopsies.

“Taken together, access to the drug and FibroScan led to the nearly 100 percent hepatitis C eradication within the VA,” he continues. “The FibroScan technology has been a valuable tool in this fight, and has truly helped many of my veteran brothers and sisters at the VA.”

Dr. Stephen A. Harrison, M.D., FACP, FAASLD, retired colonel, USA, MC, visiting professor of Hepatology, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, medical director, Pinnacle Clinical Research, explains, “While the new drugs can effectively eradicate Hepatitis C in many patients, liver disease remains and the individuals still require ongoing monitoring for NAFLD and NASH. This is the focus of a recent study which suggests that fatty liver is present in 47.5 percent of patients who have cured their HCV infection, with some experiencing ongoing clinically significant fibrosis, despite normalizing liver enzymes.”

Harrison adds, “This study reinforces the need to continue to monitor liver health in those patients with metabolic syndrome who are cured of HCV infection. NAFLD was identified in patients prior to treatment and persisted even after curing their HCV infection.”

He also highlighted another study, which found that the military experienced a 12-fold increase in the number of active military diagnosed with NAFLD and is recognized by the VA as a growing disease that requires immediate action. “As part of an overall assessment, FibroScan can help detect liver disease before it progresses and becomes symptomatic, reducing costs and improving outcomes.”

These much-neededportable FibroScan units will bring greater access to screening and earlier detection for many veterans who may be living with liver disease but are completely unaware of it. With one-third of veterans receiving their healthcare in community clinics and not the VA Medical Centers, the addition of the FibroScan 430 mini+ provides greater access to care for these patients.

“The FibroScan assessment is a simple, non-invasive test that provides scores that can be used to diagnose and monitor liver health. The addition of portable FibroScan systems will enable the VA to save time, money and, most importantly, help the veterans with hepatitis C get follow-up assessments and halt the progression of NAFLD.”

Lee says the data can be sent back to the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) hub physicians without the burden on the VA patients to travel distances to reach a main VA facility for care. The VA can now bring care to the veterans though their already massive VA clinic infrastructure.