Schering-Plough Provides Grant Supporting Major New Hepatitis C Research and Education Initiative by American Academy of Family Physicians

KENILWORTH, N.J. -- Schering-Plough Corporation today announced that it is providing an unrestricted educational grant in support of a major initiative by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to develop tools and educational programs concerning hepatitis C for family physicians.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver that affects an estimated 4 million Americans and contributes to approximately 8,000 to 10,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This toll is expected to triple by the year 2010. Hepatitis C is the most common cause of chronic liver disease, and associated end-stage liver disease is the most frequent indication for liver transplantation among adults. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that only about 25 percent of Americans infected with hepatitis C are aware they have the disease and receive appropriate treatment.

"Family physicians diagnose more cases of hepatitis C than physicians in any other specialty," said Michael Fleming, MD, president of the AAFP. "Our ultimate goal is to provide family physicians with resources that will enhance their efforts to diagnose and effectively treat this disease and yield the greatest benefits for patients. We appreciate Schering-Plough's support of this important initiative."

The hepatitis C initiative, part of an AAFP-wide educational focus on prevention, began with a survey of 1,500 family physicians concerning their beliefs, knowledge of and clinical practices related to the screening, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C. The survey included doctors in all 50 states -- in rural, suburban and inner city areas -- to better understand their interactions with hepatitis C patients and to identify barriers to treatment. The survey findings, which are being processed, will be used in developing the educational program.

"Schering-Plough is pleased to support the AAFP in this important effort as part of our continuing role as an industry leader in providing products and services for the benefit of people with chronic hepatitis C," said Robert J. Spiegel, MD, senior vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer, Schering-Plough Research Institute. "As with any disease, obtaining accurate information about treatment issues facing hepatitis C patients and their physicians -- as will be identified by the AAFP physician survey -- is the first step in making effective and appropriate treatment more widely available."

Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents more than 94,300 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical specialty society devoted solely to primary care.

Source: Schering-Plough Corporation

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