It is now easier for GPs to prescribe hepatitis C treatment

Changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule in 2016 have made it possible for GPs to prescribe treatment to patients with hepatitis C. With nearly 90% of these patients yet to receive their treatment, your clinic can really make a difference! Testing and treating patients is simple: new treatments result in virtually no side effects and few contraindications.

GPs have a pivotal role in testing and treating patients with hepatitis C. Treating patients is very simple as there are virtually no side effects and only a very limited number of contraindications. It is now recommended that all patients with hepatitis C are offered treatment.

NSW Health statistics show that over 8800 people in NSW have initiated treatment since March 2016, which represents around 11% of the estimated people living with hepatitis C in NSW. This is a good start, but there is more to be done – you can help.

All GPs can prescribe hepatitis C treatment with the support of a specialist. GPs experienced in the treatment of hepatitis C no longer need to consult a specialist to prescribe treatment following changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule from 1 November 2016.

You can learn more about testing and treating hepatitis C in primary care by accessing ‘Managing hepatitis C in general practice’ in the Australian Prescriber. Additional resources are available through the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) and Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM).

Support and advice is available from liver clinic specialists. Details about local liver clinics and other GPs who treat hepatitis C can be found in the Hepatitis NSW service directory.

This article first published on 22 June 2017 in the NSW and ACT June RACGP newsletter:
http://www.racgp.org.au/yourracgp/faculties/nswact/newsletter/june-2017/#1