It’s a landmark day for Australians living with hepatitis C with the listing of new, highly effective treatment drugs on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).
Previously costing patients thousands of dollars, the direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAAs) will now be available through the PBS for just AUD$6.20 for concessional patients and $37.70 for general patients.
Australia is one of the first countries to make them publicly subsidised.
World-leading Burnet Institute hepatitis C researcher and Head of the Institute’s Centre for Population Health, Professor Margaret Hellard said the PBS-listing was a highly-anticipated, game-changing move.
“It’s an exciting time to make the most of a rare and special opportunity, and to work together with Governments, the community and affected populations to increase the numbers of people accessing treatment,” Professor Hellard said.
“There has been a significant decline in people being treated in recent years because existing drugs had been so unpleasant. Many patients have been waiting, hoping that the new DAA’s would become available, and today’s the day.”
“We now need to shift the norm and change expectations that we can treat 10-to-15000 people every year.”
More than 230,000 Australians are living with hepatitis C and there are around about 700 deaths every year. But many don’t know they have the disease that can lead to liver cancer and liver failure.
Professor Hellard who is also a clinician, urged Australians with hepatitis C or suspected hepatitis C to consult their doctor about accessing the new treatments.
“It is not very often that we’re in this situation that we have drugs that cure. In just 12 weeks, taking one or two tablets a day, with very few side effects, people using these DAA’s can be cured in 95 per cent of cases,” she said.
The new drugs are available to all Australian adults 18 years and over. This includes people with a history of, or current injecting drug users, people in prisons, and those who have unsuccessfully attempted treatment previously.
The listed drugs are:
- Harvoni (sofosbuvir/ledipasvir)
- Sovaldi and Daklinza (sofosbuvir and daclatasvir)
- Solvadi and Ibavyr (sofosbuvir and ribavirin.
For further information on sexual health and viral hepatitis, click here.
Find out more about accessing the DAAs from Hepatitis Victoria.
Find out more about Burnet’s innovative hepatitis C TAP Study.