The report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, The Silent Disease – Inquiry into Hepatitis C in Australia has been welcomed by the peak body representing more than 230,000 Australians living with hepatitis C.
The Acting CEO of Hepatitis Australia Kevin Marriott thanked the House of Representatives Committee for their report, which included input from more than one hundred submissions and five public hearings.
“The Inquiry has been a landmark moment for Australians living with hepatitis C,” says Marriott.
“It allowed many people to make their voice heard and we thank the Committee for listening and acknowledging the diverse experiences of people impacted by hepatitis C.
”The report includes a number of important recommendations, including improved data collection and monitoring of progress against the targets in the National Hepatitis C Strategy – which we strongly welcome.”
He says the introduction of robust targets to increase testing and supporting the use in Australia of new rapid testing technology is also a step in the right direction.
However, Hepatitis Australia believes the report falls short in two important areas – affordable access to new generation anti-viral medicines and the prevention of blood borne viruses in correctional settings.
“We are disappointed that the report is silent on recommendations around new treatment options for hepatitis C, which have been deemed cost-effective and are now awaiting a PBS listing date,” Marriott says.
“These therapies offer the opportunity to transform lives and make hepatitis C a rare condition in our lifetime.
Gilead Sciences ANZ welcomed the report. Gilead is currently working with the relevant government departments to make its two approved direct-acting antiviral treatments available as quickly as possible.
Gilead participated in the Inquiry that informed the report, as part of an initial roundtable discussion in Melbourne earlier this year with Committee members and again through the provision of a submission, as part of the national public consultation process.
“We commend the Committee for highlighting the enormous health and social burden that chronic hepatitis C (HCV) represents in our community, particularly on people living with the disease and those responsible for treating and caring for them,” says Rob Hetherington, general manager, Gilead Sciences Australia and New Zealand.
“We are also pleased that the important role of the new generation of medications for treating HCV has been acknowledged.
“As the report states, these medicines offer simpler treatment regimens, fewer side effects and more favourable health outcomes than current treatments and we hope that Australians will soon be able to access these treatments,” he says.