• treatment is now 95% effective at curing hepatitis C
  • it is available with a prescription from your GP
  • it is low cost for people who have a Medicare Card

New medicines are now available to cure hepatitis C. They are easier to take with as little as one tablet a day, no injections and have few to no side effects.

The new medicines known as direct-acting antivirals (D.A.As) are very effective for most people who take them. The medicines are taken orally as tablets with some medicines only requiring one tablet each day. In most cases you are only required to take the tablets for 8 to 12 weeks. The medicines prescribed for you, and how long you take them for, may depend whether you have developed cirrhosis (liver scarring).

Your usual GP can now prescribe the new D.A.A. medicine to cure hepatitis C but the doctor may seek advice from a specialist if they do not have a lot of experience with treating hepatitis C.

Do the new medicines for hepatitis C have side effects?

All medicines can have side-effects and each person’s experience will be different. The new D.A.A. medicines have far fewer side effects than the older medicines. If you do experience side-effects they may include fatigue, headache, insomnia and nausea, but they are uncommon and typically mild. Please discuss possible side-effects with your doctor.

What medicines are used to cure hepatitis C?

The following medicines are currently used in Australia to cure hepatitis C.

  • Daklinza® (daclatasvir)
  • Epclusa® (sofosbuvir + velpatasvir)
  • Harvoni® (sofosbuvir + ledipasvir)
  • Maviret® (glecaprevir/pibrentasvir)
  • Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir)
  • VOSEVI® (sofosbuvir with velpatasvir and voxilaprevir)
  • Zepatier® (elbasvir + grazoprevir)

How much do the medicines cost?

The new medicines to cure hepatitis C and are made available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to people over the age of 18 who hold an Australian Medicare card. You will pay no more than $41 for each script, or less than $7 if you have a concession card. This amount is adjusted each year on 1 January, so these amounts are correct for a year.

Remember you will still need to pay the consultation fee unless your doctor bulk bills.

How do you know if the cure is working?

While you are taking treatment to cure hepatitis C the doctor may conduct blood tests to check if the medicines are working. How often your doctor conducts the tests will be determined by your individual circumstances.

For many people, one assessment half-way through the course of treatment will be done. Assessment will include discussion about any side effects and how you have been taking the D.A.A. medicines.

What is meant by the term 'cure'?

Being cured of hepatitis C means that treatment has worked, and you have successfully cleared the hepatitis C virus from your body. To check this your doctor will order a PCR viral load test 12 weeks after you have finished treatment and if the results show ‘virus undetectable’ (no virus) this means you have been cured. It is important to have this final test and not assume you are cured until the results confirm it.

If you have not been cured of hepatitis C after the initial course of medicine the doctor may recommend extending the time you take the medicines or suggest taking a break and trying again at a later stage, either with the same of different medicines.

Hep C antibodies after being cured

Once you have been cured of hep C, your body will continue to make antibodies for ten years or more. Antibodies are produced as a part of your body’s natural defence system to infections. Having hep C antibodies does not mean you still have hep C.

It is important to remember that even though antibodies will remain in your blood, this does not protect you against getting hep C again from another person.

Download this factsheet


MORE INFORMATION

For more information on how to access the new D.A.A. medicines you can contact the National Hepatitis Info Line on 1800 437 222.

Use the following links to find out more about hepatitis C

About hepatitis C

Hepatitis C prevention

Testing for hepatitis C

Symptoms of hepatitis C

References

Hepatitis C Virus Infection Consensus Statement Working Group. Australian recommendations for the management of hepatitis C infection: a consensus statement (September 2018). Melbourne: Gastroenterological Society of Australia, 2018. Accessed 04.06.19
 

National HCV Testing Policy Expert Reference Committee. National Hepatitis C Testing Policy v1.2 Reviewed 2016-17. Commonwealth of Australia 2016. Accessed 25.10.2017

Page updated: 7 June 2019