Hepatitis C cures available today on the PBS

Hepatitis C sufferers will today get access to publicly-subsidised medications that could eradicate the deadly and debilitating disease within a generation.


The Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced Australians with Hep C would now pay just $6.20 a prescription if they were a concession card holder or $38.30 a prescription as a general patient for four different cures listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme today – saving patients as much as $100,000 for treatment.


Ms Ley said that when taken as prescribed, the four breakthrough medicines listed today had a cure rate of over 90 per cent and worked faster and with fewer side effects than anything else previously subsidised on the PBS.


“Australia is one of the first countries in the world to publicly subsidise these cures for every one of our quarter-of-a-million Hep C suffers, no matter what their condition or how they contracted it,” Ms Ley said.


Hepatitis C is an infectious blood borne virus that attacks the liver, causing its inflammation, and may lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, liver cancer and, in some cases, death. It has six different genotypes.


Ms Ley said there were about 700 deaths attributable to chronic Hep C infection each year, with thousands more suffering a variety of serious liver diseases and conditions.


As a result deaths from primary liver cancer, for which untreated Hep C is a major driver, are rising faster than for any other cancer, with Ms Ley describing today’s PBS listings as a “game changer”.


“Essentially one in every 100 Australians has Hep C, with another 10,000 people diagnosed every year, and they come from all walks of life,” Ms Ley said.


“With this announcement there is great hope we can not only halt the spread of this deadly infectious virus, but eliminate it altogether in time.”


Ms Ley said today’s announcement would see the listing of multiple drug combinations to ensure cures for all types of Hep C were made available to the entire patient population through the PBS from 1 March 2016.


The medicines are: Sofosbuvir with ledipasvir (Harvoni); Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi); Daclatasvir (Daklinza); and Ribavirin (Ibavyr).


Ms Ley said in the majority of cases the medicines would be taken orally, with treatment duration as short as 8 to 12 weeks.


Ms Ley said the cures would be administered in line with the Australian Government’s broader 4th National Hepatitis C Strategy.


Ms Ley advised people with Hep C to consult their doctor about the best course of treatment for them.


The Hep C cures were part of $1.6 billion the Government invested in its recent MYEFO update.


1 March 2016.