Self Treatment: Is it Safe?
It has become evident to me that there are people who are treating their hep C with drugs that they purchase from countries where generic drugs are produced. These drugs are produced under a licensing agreement with the drug company that owns the legal ownership and rights under patent laws observed internationally, as I understand. It has come to my attention that the originating owner of these rights earns somewhere around 15% from these generic sales. If one thinks they are giving it to Big Pharma, I guess that is another conversation.
Hepatitis C Treatment Is Not Simple for Everyone
I won’t get into a discussion here about whether people should ever use generic drugs, and that includes these drugs. I am myself a user of a couple generic drugs listed where I live and, in general, I think they are fine. I have had some concerns about buying any drug online and would never do it myself under any circumstance, but I am old school as some will surely say. People buy almost everything online these days and I certainly buy some sundry items myself in this way as I am not a total dinosaur.
My biggest issue is with self-treatment with these very powerful drugs. They need to be powerful to kill the hep C virus. This is not an over the counter flu remedy, but something that can potentially cause any number of side effects or problems. Relying on a forum or Facebook group to seek medical information that may be critical in your care is not advisable. Yes, it is true that some people are doing this and I cannot stress enough how important it is to be in the care of a medical professional while treating with these drugs. Do people take a course of chemo alone at home? No, they do not and there is a full range of reasons. There are people who do their dialysis at home but this has been well studied and deemed to be safe for some patients under the direction of their doctor.
Ensuring Safe Medical Care During Treatment
I don’t want to scare anyone about potential side effects with these new-ish and very potent drugs that can cure almost everyone, but in my work as a peer support worker, I am hearing from several people who are experiencing some very real side effects. The facts are, so far, that most people will experience manageable side effects if any at all, but this does not mean all people. Recently I spoke with someone who quit treatment after 2 weeks because the side effects were too difficult.
There is absolutely no way to predict how any person will respond to any drug. Another important piece is the need to have a full assessment of your hep C status before treatment is considered, assigned, and implemented. Which drug, how long, drug interactions, contraindications, to name a few, are important issues. Sure, people can read all about these things and learn all sorts of things, and I suggest that people do inform themselves, but…! The but in this is enough of a concern for people being safe, that I cannot endorse self-treatment.
What people choose to do with their time, money, or body is their business of course, but in my view treating yourself is akin to the old saying about lawyers defending themselves in court. It may work out well for most people, but if you are one of the people who it doesn’t, remember that they will likely know very little about hep C drugs at your local urgent care or ER. Again I am not trying to frighten anyone, but this is serious business and of course, we all want this to be safe and with the very best outcome.