Fewer hepatitis C deaths with cheaper meds

There has been a 20 per cent drop in the number of people dying from liver failure related to hepatitis C in two years thanks to more affordable medication.

Fewer people have died from liver failure caused by hepatitis C since the government started subsidising new drugs in 2016.

The Kirby Institute's analysis has found a 20 per cent drop in the number of deaths since the medicines were added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme two years ago.

"Since 2016, around 60,000 Australians have been treated with these highly curative therapies and now for the first time, we are seeing fewer people dying of hepatitis C-related causes," said Professor Greg Dore, head of the Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program at the Kirby Institute, based at UNSW Sydney.

People who inject drugs continue to be the main risk group for hepatitis C.

Australia is one of the only countries to offer the treatments at low cost and without restrictions on a patient's stage of liver disease or injecting drug use behaviours, and allow general practitioners to prescribe.

The data relates to about 70 per cent of people with hepatitis C-related liver damage that have started treatment since 2016.

But only 30 per cent of people with the disease have been treated, Prof Dore said, with the number of deaths likely to drop even further as awareness grows.

Source AAP

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