Govt invests $1 billion in hepatitis C cures


The federal government will subsidise life-saving hepatitis C drugs to the tune of $1 billion to ensure all patients can access the medications.

A billion-dollar investment to improve access to hepatitis C cures could lead to the disease being "all but eradicated" within a generation, the government says.

About 230,000 Australians are estimated to have the disease, which kills about 700 people a year, but the large five-year subsidy for four drugs, some that can cost up to $100,000, will halt the spread of hepatitis C, Health Minister Sussan Ley said.

"There is great hope we can not only halt the spread of this deadly infectious virus, but eradicate it altogether in time," she said.

Hepatitis C is an infectious blood borne virus that attacks the liver and could lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, liver cancer and death, Ms Ley said, adding it has six different genotypes.

From March next year, Sofosbuvir with ledipasvir (Harvoni); Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi); Daclatasvir (Daklinza); and Ribavirin (Ibavyr) will be subsidised for all hepatitis C sufferers, no matter their age or method of infection.

"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," Ms Ley said.

Most people will be able to take the medicine orally, with treatment lasting between eight and 12 weeks.

Source AAP

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