A new hope for hepatitis C sufferers: breakthrough drugs listed

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Stakeholders have welcomed the announcement yesterday that a range of curative breakthrough hepatitis C medicines will be added to the PBS next year.

Health Minister Sussan Ley announced that the Turnbull Government will invest more than $1 billion to give Australians access to the medicines.

Minister Ley says the announcement will see the listing of multiple drug combinations to ensure cures for all types of Hep C were made available to the entire patient population through the PBS from March 1 2016. The medicines are: Sofosbuvir with ledipasvir (Harvoni); Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi); Daclatasvir (Daklinza); and Ribavirin (Ibavyr).

“This combination of breakthrough cures has a success rate of more-than 90 per cent across the entire Hep C patient population and is faster and has fewer side effects than anything currently available,” she says.

Hepatitis Australia CEO Helen Tyrrell says the move is “simply terrific”.

“Last week, we were incredibly disheartened that the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) announcement did not include funding for new hepatitis C medicines, but today we are overjoyed that the waiting is almost over,” Tyrrell says.

“So many people have been anxiously waiting for this announcement. “This is wonderful news and it is such a relief to have an end to the uncertainty.”

Ms Ley says the PBS funding had been fully accounted for as part of Tuesday’s MYEFO, but was not announced at the time as confidential pricing negotiations with medicine suppliers were still being finalised.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia welcomed the announcement, saying it would bring new hope to thousands of Australian sufferers.

“These new listings have been made possible by significant PBS reforms in recent years which have significantly lowered the cost of subsidised medicines and created space for new listings such as those announced today,” says executive director David Quilty.

“These listings are feasible because of the heavy lifting by the community pharmacy sector, producing the budget savings that ensure the PBS remains sustainable.

“The accessibility of the community pharmacy network will play an important role in helping making these medicines available for everyone. Australia’s 5500 community pharmacies stand ready to ensure patients get the benefits of this significant public investment.​”

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