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author:("Louie, early")
1.  Access to Artemisinin-Combination Therapy (ACT) and other Anti-Malarials: National Policy and Markets in Sierra Leone 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47733.
Malaria remains the leading burden of disease in post-conflict Sierra Leone. To overcome the challenge of anti-malarial drug resistance and improve effective treatment, Sierra Leone adopted artemisinin-combination therapy artesunate-amodiaquine (AS+AQ) as first-line treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. Other national policy anti-malarials include artemether-lumefantrine (AL) as an alternative to AS+AQ, quinine and artemether for treatment of complicated malaria; and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) for intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp). This study was conducted to evaluate access to national policy recommended anti-malarials. A cross-sectional survey of 127 medicine outlets (public, private and NGO) was conducted in urban and rural areas. The availability on the day of the survey, median prices, and affordability policy and available non-policy anti-malarials were calculated. Anti-malarials were stocked in 79% of all outlets surveyed. AS+AQ was widely available in public medicine outlets; AL was only available in the private and NGO sectors. Quinine was available in nearly two-thirds of public and NGO outlets and over one-third of private outlets. SP was widely available in all outlets. Non-policy anti-malarials were predominantly available in the private outlets. AS+AQ in the public sector was widely offered for free. Among the anti-malarials sold at a cost, the same median price of a course of AS+AQ (US$1.56), quinine tablets (US$0.63), were found in both the public and private sectors. Quinine injection had a median cost of US$0.31 in the public sector and US$0.47 in the private sector, while SP had a median cost of US$0.31 in the public sector compared to US$ 0.63 in the private sector. Non-policy anti-malarials were more affordable than first-line AS+AQ in all sectors. A course of AS+AQ was affordable at nearly two days’ worth of wages in both the public and private sectors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047733
PMCID: PMC3485052  PMID: 23133522
2.  The high comorbidity burden of the hepatitis C virus infected population in the United States 
Background
Chronic hepatitis C (HCV) disease can be complicated with comorbid conditions that may impact treatment eligibility and outcomes. The aim of the study was to systematically review comorbidities and symptoms in an HCV infected population, specifically assessing comorbidities associated with HCV anti-viral treatment and disease, as well as comparing comorbidities between an HCV infected and uninfected control population.
Methods
This was a retrospective cohort study within a United States medical claims database among patients with chronic HCV designed to estimate the two-year period prevalence of comorbidities. Patients with two HCV diagnosis codes, 24 months of continuous health insurance coverage, and full medical and pharmacy benefits were included.
Results
Among a chronic HCV cohort of 7411 patients, at least one comorbid condition was seen in almost all patients (> 99%) during the study period. HCV-infected patients reported almost double the number of comorbidities compared to uninfected controls. Of the 25 most common comorbidities, the majority of the comorbidities (n = 22) were known to be associated with either HCV antiviral treatment or disease. The five most frequent comorbidities were liver disease [other] (37.5%), connective tissue disease (37.5%), abdominal pain (36.1%), upper respiratory infections (35.6%), and lower respiratory disease (33.7%). Three notable comorbidities not known to be associated with antiviral treatment or disease were benign neoplasms (24.3%), genitourinary symptoms & ill-defined conditions (14.8%), and viral infections (13.8%).
Conclusions
This US medically insured HCV population is highly comorbid. Effective strategies to manage these comorbidities are necessary to allow wider access to HCV treatment and reduce the future burden of HCV disease and its manifestations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-86
PMCID: PMC3342214  PMID: 22494445
3.  Influence of Cannabis Use on Severity of Hepatitis C Disease 
Background
Complications of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are primarily related to the development of advanced fibrosis.
Methods
Baseline data from a prospective community-based cohort study of 204 persons with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection were used for analysis. The outcome was fibrosis score on biopsy and the primary predictor evaluated was daily cannabis use.
Results
The median age of the cohort was 46.8 years, 69.1% were male, 49.0% were Caucasian, and the presumed route of infection was injection drug use in 70.1%. The median lifetime duration and average daily use of alcohol were 29.1 years and 1.94 drink equivalents per day. Cannabis use frequency (within prior 12 months) was daily in 13.7%, occasional in 45.1%, and never in 41.2%. Fibrosis stage, assessed by Ishak method, was F0, F1–2 and F3–6 in 27.5%, 55.4% and 17.2% of subjects, respectively. Daily compared to non-daily cannabis use was significantly associated with moderate to severe fibrosis (F3–6 versus F1–2) in univariate [OR = 3.21 (95% CI, 1.20–8.56), p = 0.020] and multivariate analyses (OR = 6.78, (1.89–24.31), p=0.003). Other independent predictors of F3–6 were ≥11 portal tracts (compared to <5, OR = 6.92 (1.34–35.7), p=0.021] and lifetime duration of moderate and heavy alcohol use [OR per decade = 1.72 (1.02–2.90), p=0.044].
Conclusion
We conclude that daily cannabis use is strongly associated with moderate to severe fibrosis and that HCV-infected individuals should be counseled to reduce or abstain from cannabis use.
doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2007.10.021
PMCID: PMC3184401  PMID: 18166478
fibrosis; alcohol; viral load; marijuana; cirrhosis
4.  Access to artesunate-amodiaquine, quinine and other anti-malarials: policy and markets in Burundi 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:34.
Background
Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in post-conflict Burundi. To counter the increasing challenge of anti-malarial drug resistance and improve highly effective treatment Burundi adopted artesunate-amodiaquine (AS-AQ) as first-line treatment for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria and oral quinine as second-line treatment in its national treatment policy in 2003. Uptake of this policy in the public, private and non-governmental (NGO) retail market sectors of Burundi is relatively unknown. This study was conducted to evaluate access to national policy recommended anti-malarials.
Methods
Adapting a standardized methodology developed by Health Action International/World Health Organization (HAI/WHO), a cross-sectional survey of 70 (24 public, 36 private, and 10 NGO) medicine outlets was conducted in three regions of Burundi, representing different levels of transmission of malaria. The availability on day of the survey, the median prices, and affordability (in terms of number of days' wages to purchase treatment) of AS-AQ, quinine and other anti-malarials were calculated.
Results
Anti-malarials were stocked in all outlets surveyed. AS-AQ was available in 87.5%, 33.3%, and 90% of public, private, and NGO retail outlets, respectively. Quinine was the most common anti-malarial found in all outlet types. Non-policy recommended anti-malarials were mainly found in the private outlets (38.9%) compared to public (4.2%) and NGO (0%) outlets. The median price of a course of AS-AQ was US$0.16 (200 Burundi Francs, FBu) for the public and NGO markets, and 3.5-fold higher in the private sector (US$0.56 or 700 FBu). Quinine tablets were similarly priced in the public (US$1.53 or 1,892.50 FBu), private and NGO sectors (both US$1.61 or 2,000 FBu). Non-policy anti-malarials were priced 50-fold higher than the price of AS-AQ in the public sector. A course of AS-AQ was affordable at 0.4 of a day's wage in the public and NGO sectors, whereas, it was equivalent to 1.5 days worth of wages in the private sector.
Conclusions
AS-AQ was widely available and affordable in the public and NGO markets of hard-to-reach post-conflict communities in Burundi. However greater accessibility and affordability of policy recommended anti-malarials in the private market sector is needed to improve country-wide policy uptake.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-34
PMCID: PMC3050774  PMID: 21310057

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