New Hepatitis C Treatments
What new treatments are available for people living with Hepatitis C?
The Australian government has listed following new medications on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to ensure that they are accessible and affordable to all people living with Hepatitis C in Australia.
These new direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medicines available on the PBS from 1 May 2016 include:
- Daklinza® (daclatasvir)
- Harvoni® (sofosbuvir + ledipasvir)
- Ibavyr® (ribavirin)
- Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir)
- Viekira Pak® (paritaprevir + ritonavir + ombitasvir + dasabuvir)
- Viekira Pak RBV® (paritaprevir + ritonavir + ombitasvir + dasabuvir + ribavirin)
Why is it better to start new treatments?
The new treatments are highly effective, easier to take and have fewer side effects than the older medications. That means all people whether newly diagnosed with hepatitis C or have been living with chronic hepatitis infection for many years, will now have access to fast, effective and well-tolerated treatment. The new DAA treatments:
- Are more effective with a cure rate between 90-95%
- Time reduced to 8-12 weeks
- Are taken as tablets instead of injections
- Have very few side effects
Who can prescribe these new medicines?
General practitioners (GPs) will be able to prescribe these medicines or refer you to a liver specialist. Currently, for most people in the NT, liver clinics are the best option to access the new medicines. They are experienced in treating large number of people and have well trained staff who can get you started with new treatment. The list of GPs who can prescribe these new medicines will be made available soon.
Who can access new medicines?
The new treatment with DAA medicines is available to through PBS for all people living with hepatitis C over the age of 18 and who have a Medicare card. The particular combination of medicines prescribed will depend on a number of individual factors including genotype, prior treatment experience and whether or not you have developed cirrhosis.
Can people who inject drugs access new medicines?
Yes there are no restrictions applied to people who inject drugs as they are a priority population for hepatitis C treatment. There are no restrictions associated with person’s current or past injecting drug use.
Can people in the prison access new medicines?
Yes people in prison are a priority population for hepatitis C treatment. It is usually a state and territory responsibility to fund the health care of people in prison, however the Australian Government has agreed to fund the cost of these medicines for prisoners through the PBS.
How much will the medicines cost me?
The PBS listing means the medications are now available for free but when you take your prescription to a pharmacy you will only pay the normal co-payment for medicines. This is $38.30 for general patients and $6.20 for concessional patients.
What medicine is for what genotype?
Genotype 1: sofosbuvir + ledipasvir or sufosbuvir + daclatasvir (95% cure)
You two treatment options if you have genotype 1
Genotype 2: sofosbuvir + ribavirin (93% cure)
Genotype 3: sofosbuvir + daclatasvir (95% cure)
The treatment options below are based on the ‘Australian recommendations for the management of hepatitis C virus infection: a consensus statement 2016’. You can view this at hepcguidelines.org.au
Some variations to these regimens may be required depending on a person’s individual clinical history or health status and Interferon containing regimens are only shown where there are no other PBS option is currently approved. For more detailed information you can discuss options with your doctor.
[* As per the Australian approved label for Viekira Pak-RBV: GTb patients with cirrhosis should receive ombitasvir, paritaprevir, ritonavir and dasabuvir and ribavirin]
Where can I go to get more information?
See your GP
NT AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC)