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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
Breakthrough anti-viral medications, include medications to treat Hepatitis C, will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from tomorrow, Australian Medical Association (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said today.
In December 2015, the Federal Government announced a funding package of $1 billion over five years to subsidise a range of breakthrough medicines on the PBS to treat Hepatitis C.
Sofosbuvir with ledipasvir (Harvoni); Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi); Daclatasvir (Daklinza); and Ribavirin (Ibavyr) will be available from 1 March.
These new antiviral treatments have a cure rate of more than 90 per cent. Unlike previous combination therapy treatments, these antivirals can be taken orally over short durations of only 8 to 12 weeks and have fewer side effects for patients.
These new treatments are available to all patients with chronic Hepatitis C infection, across all disease genotypes and disease severities.
GPs will be able to prescribe these antiviral medications in, or following, consultation with a Hepatologist or other Specialist Physician.
“The recent publicity around a case of Hepatitis C transmission at Fiona Stanley Hospital served as a reminder of the need to be vigilant about this potentially lethal infection. Patients with risk factors for transmission like a history of illicit drug use or unprotected sex should talk to their GP about screening.” Dr Gannon said.
“It seems only a few years ago that we were grappling with increasing rates of so-called Non-A Non-B Hepatitis. We now have wonderful new treatments that reduce viral loads to the point where they are undetectable.
“With ‘cure’ rates over 90 per cent, there is optimism that rates of Hepatitis C will be drastically reduced over the next decade. The next frontiers are scientific proof that cure is life-long and the development of a preventative vaccine,” he said.