From today, 1 March 2016, directing acting antivirals to treat hepatitis C will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The medicines are: sofosbuvir with ledipasvir (Harvoni); sofosbuvir (Sovaldi); daclatasvir (Daklinza); and ribavirin (Ibavyr). Treatment regimens will involve daily combinations of one to three of these drugs taken orally over a period of 8 to 24 weeks.
The drugs will have a dual listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme under both the General Schedule section 85 and section 100 Highly Specialised Drugs program. This is designed to enable broad access for all Australians living with hepatitis C, including prisoners.
Treatment initiation is done in consultation with a gastroenterologist, hepatologist or infectious diseases physicians, to ensure people with complex needs are referred to hospital services.
The new treatments are highly effective with a cure rate of 95-97 per cent. In most cases, treatment time is reduced to 12 weeks, administration is oral rather than injectable and there are little to no side effects. This is a major change from just a few years ago, when hepatitis C treatment time was from six to twelve months, with toxic side effects and only a 50 percent chance of being cured.
These new drugs mean we can think of eliminating the hepatitis C virus within a generation.
The Department of Health and Human Services has convened a Hepatitis C Readiness Working Group, which is working to ensure Victoria takes full advantage of the opportunity represented by this listing. The group aims to ensure that affected communities, primary care, drug and alcohol services, criminal justice agencies, community health and tertiary providers are working together to provide access to testing, care, and support, and to ensure people feel safe and comfortable in accessing appropriate services, free of stigma and discrimination.
For further information go to:
Hep C fact sheet:
Hep C FAQ fact sheet:
For professionals, you can find more information via the Department of Health and Human Services:
For further information about treatments in Victoria can phone the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 703 003 or go www.hepvic.org.au
All images on this page created by Stonetree.