Hepatitis Australia welcomes HCV commitments

Source: PharmaDispatch Author: Paul Cross

Hepatitis Australia has welcomed outcomes from the March PBAC meeting it says are "cognisant" of the need to address the fall in treatment initiations and an election commitment from the Greens.

The committee recommended a number of revisions to the PBS listing of the direct-acting antivirals for hepatitis C with more "significant changes" on the horizon.

The recommended revisions include the removal of age restrictions on access and the removal of the remaining peg-interferon alfa-2a containing regimens.

It also recommended, "the Department investigate the feasibility of a number of other significant changes to hepatitis C listings and provide advice for consideration at a future meeting."

Hepatitis Australia CEO Helen Tyrrell welcomed the recommendations, particularly removal of the age restrictions, saying it "will be a welcome change to address a significant unmet need in this small population group."

"We hope other measures raised at the Stakeholders Meeting to simplify prescribing and help maximise uptake across di!erent settings and populations will be resolved soon," she said, pointing to a potential loosening of the prescribing authority, expanding the role of nurse practitioners, and relaxation of the reporting on the outcome of genotype testing.

The organisation has also welcomed an election commitment from the Greens to invest in raising awareness of treatment options for hepatitis C and B.

Hepatitis Australia has consistently called for policy intervention to address the dramatic decline in the uptake of the direct-acting antivirals for hepatitis C.

The Greens have announced a $10 million commitment over three years for hepatitis C community awareness and engagement with a particular focus on finding people not connected to care.

It has announced another $10 million per year for "a suite of education and incentive initiatives" to support primary care practitioners increase identification, testing and treatment of people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

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