Why access to new hepatitis C treatments is important for Australians.

There are many factors that reinforce the importance of providing Australians with the latest treatments for hepatitis C through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).  Yes, some of the new treatments are expensive, but the cost of not providing good access to them will also be very expensive.

The new treatments are effective tools in responding to hepatitis C and now it is time for Australia to provide timely access to them.  While some new medicines are already been considered for listings on the PBS, other newly developed medicines are yet to be considered.

Even if the latest recommendations from PBAC are approved by government it will continue to be important to ensure people have access to a range of treatment options increasing the likelihood for curing and eliminating hepatitis C in Australia.

 Consider the facts:

  • There are almost a quarter of a million Australians living with chronic hepatitis C;
  • More than 10,000 people in Australian are diagnosed with hepatitis C each year;
  • The number of people receiving treatment for hepatitis C in Australia is very low (< 2%);
  • With high prevalence and sub-optimal access to treatment, the burden of disease from hepatitis C is set to rise significantly.
  • Viral hepatitis is already the leading cause of liver transplants in Australia;
  • 80% of people with hepatitis C are over 40 years of age and already in the liver danger zone and at increased risk of serious liver disease;
  • The current treatments offered under the PBS in Australia are less effective, require longer dosing periods and have more side-effects than the new generation of treatments currently being considered;
  •  Until new drugs are approved by the government, the current treatments in Australia require weekly injections.The new treatments eliminate this need for most people;
  • The new, simpler treatments could result in less complex healthcare for people with chronic hepatitis C;
  • The new treatments offer a greater chance for people to be free of hepatitis C;
  • Equal access to the new treatments for all people with hepatitis C, combined with effective models of prevention can lead to significant reductions in the number of people living with chronic hepatitis C in Australia; and
  • If Australia responds in a timely and effective way, we could see the virtual elimination of hepatitis C in Australia.

Your voice is important to ensure the new hepatitis C treatments become available as soon as possible.

You can let the government’s advisory body (PBAC) know what you think by completing an online form before 10 June 2015.

To find out how you can help go to our 'The Process' page.

 

Page updated: 11 May 2015