February 2013

The Federal Government has announced it will provide $220 million over five years to subsidise two new hepatitis C treatments, boceprevir and telaprevir.

About half of those with hepatitis C in Australia have genotype 1. Boceprevir and telaprevir, known as direct acting antivirals, have been shown to cure up to 75% of people with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1.  With the improved accessibility of these new drugs, there is likely to be far fewer cases of liver cancer resulting from chronic hepatitis C. Furthermore, these new antiviral therapies have the potential to improve tolerability and reduce the duration of treatment, in combination with existing therapies.

For more information see this ABC news article.

This is good news for people living with hepatitis C in Australia who have been waiting for almost a year for the release of these two medications. For many people in Australia infected with hepatitis C genotype 1, the existing medications have not been effective in treating their infection. These new medications increase the chance of treatment successfully clearing the infection and improving people’s long term health.

Prof. Margaret Hellard