The Turnbull Government has taken another significant step to eliminate hepatitis C from Australia by subsidising a new drug which can treat all forms of the disease with an expected success rate of 90%.
The drug known as Epclusa® will be comfort for around 200,000 Australians who face many challenges of living with hepatitis C.
Each year, around 800 Australians will die from hepatitis C infection and our investment in this drug is aimed at reversing this unacceptable statistic.
The August 1 listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) means patients will only pay a maximum of $38.80 per month for the medicines, with concessional patients paying just $6.30.
Without this listing, the cost would be in excess of $20,000 per treatment.
Epclusa® is the first of the new direct acting antivirals that can be used to treat people with any genotype of hepatitis C, meaning it can treat all types of the disease.
This will make it simpler for doctors to prescribe this breakthrough treatment and will boost uptake rates, particularly for rural and regional patients.
Eliminating hepatitis C from Australia will take a coordinated effort from GPs, specialists, nurses, patients and the Government.
Today is World Hepatitis Day and I want to reiterate the Government’s commitment to eliminate hepatitis C in Australia by 2030.
Australia was one of the first countries in the world to subsidise new medicines for all people over the age of 18 who have chronic hepatitis C.
A range of these new medicines became available through the PBS from 1 March 2016. Since this time, more than 42,000 people have received a PBS-subsidised medicine to treat chronic hepatitis C.
The Australian Government has allocated more than $1 billion to fund these new medicines through the PBS over the next five years in line with the Government’s Fourth National Hepatitis C Strategy.
New medicines for treating chronic hepatitis C have become available after recent advances in the development of antiviral treatment.
The Australian Government will continue to fund hepatitis B and hepatitis C education activities for health care professionals.
In addition, we continue to fund hepatitis B vaccination of all infants through the National Immunisation Program (NIP). The hepatitis B infant vaccination program has resulted in more than 96 per cent of 2 year old infants being vaccinated.
From 1 July 2017, all 10-19 year olds and all refugees and other humanitarian entrants became eligible for free catch-up vaccines, including hepatitis B, on an ongoing basis through the NIP.