Good news for Canberrans affected by hepatitis C

Media Release
For Immediate Release

24 April 2015

Hepatitis ACT today welcomed Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommendations to Government to subsidise new antiviral medicines for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

Executive Officer of Hepatitis ACT, John Didlick said “Access to these new drugs under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is incredibly important and time critical, including for an estimated 4,000 Canberrans living with hepatitis C.”

If the recommendations are accepted, the Federal Government could change the course of an epidemic directly affecting nearly a quarter of a million Australians. Hepatitis ACT is aware of many people in Canberra who are anxiously waiting on access to new and improved therapies.

“Only yesterday we heard alarming reports of people making internet purchases of hep C medicines from overseas suppliers, risking incorrect use and harmful outcomes. This desperate but dangerous practice could be put to bed if a PBS listing date for the new medicines is announced without further delay,” said John Didlick.

More than 230,000 Australians are currently living with hepatitis C, yet only one per cent of them receive treatment each year. More than 600 Australian lives are lost each year to hepatitis C-related liver disease. In the ACT the increasing number of new diagnoses far outweighs the number of people who are treated.

“Many other countries already subsidise the cost of new generation hepatitis C medicines and it is encouraging to see that we might now catch up,” John Didlick said.

“We must ensure that this recommendation is actioned and that bureaucratic red tape does not stand between people with hepatitis C and access to these important therapies.”

New generation hepatitis C medicines provide higher cure-rates, shorter durations of treatment and are significantly better tolerated than traditional therapies. They can also support better access to treatment through alternative models of care, taking pressure off tertiary clinics.

Hepatitis ACT will continue to advocate for better access to care and affordable interferon-free therapies for people living with all genotypes of hepatitis C. Hepatitis ACT can be contacted on (02) 6230 6344 or through the website at www.hepatitisACT.com.au

Media Contact:
John Didlick (Executive Officer) 0402 545 640