PBAC decision on new hep C drugs

Friday, 24 April 2015

HFA welcomes the PBAC recommendation for the following hepatitis C treatments to be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C:


•    Daclatasvir (Daklinza®) in combination with Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi®)

•    Ledipasvir with sofosbuvir (Harvoni®)

•    Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi®) 

Describing its decision, the PBAC stated that “new treatments for HCV were very effective” and would offer options for treating people with genotypes 1 to 6. 

The PBAC also recommended that the new all oral treatments should be listed in the General Schedule, rather than the Section 100 Highly Specialised Drug Program. This would mean that prescribing these treatments would no longer be limited to specialist clinics.

However, clearly the PBAC was not satisfied with the proposed treatment prices and advised that the Australian Health Minister should negotiate lower prices for them to be cost-effective.

NEXT STEPS

"Government funding is needed urgently, for these medicines to be listed on the PBS so they are affordable to Australians with hepatitis C," says Gavin Finkelstein , HFA President, today. 

The next step in the process is for the Australian government to consider the PBAC recommendations and make decisions about funding. We hope the cost of these drugs can be negotiated successfully with the pharmaceutical companies without delay. Access to these medicines is critical.     

“GAME CHANGERS”

These new treatments have been described as “game changers”. They are part of the new wave of Direct Acting Antiviral (DAA) drugs that are far more effective against hepatitis C than the previous treatments. Most of these treatments are already available in other countries.

In clinical trials they have had very high success rates – over 90% for some – with few side-effects, and shorter treatment courses. Some need to be taken in combination with other medications (eg, interferon, ribavirin, ledipasvir) to be effective. Some will be available in interferon or ribavirin-free combinations. Some have had encouraging results even with people who previously had unsuccessful treatment or who have advanced liver disease.

AND IF YOU HAVE HEP C?

In the meantime - if you have hepatitis C and a bleeding disorder, remember that you would need to have your liver health assessed before you could be considered for treatment:

  • Make sure you have your liver health checked regularly
  • If you don’t know where to start, talk to your Haemophilia Centre about a referral
  • Stay in touch with your hepatitis clinic about what’s new
  • Don’t forget to go to your appointment with the hepatitis clinic after your liver health check, even if the fibroscan shows your liver health is stable at the moment
  • And for comprehensive care, let your Haemophilia Centre know about your liver test results or how your treatment is going to make sure they stay in the loop.
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