Many people with hepatitis C would have heard of Greg Jefferys, the Tasmanian man who bypassed the Australian pharmaceutical system and got his treatment drugs from overseas.
Mr Jefferys traveled to India, bought the drugs he needed, brought it back with him and apparently with the support of his local doctor, treated his hepatitis C with those drugs.
According to his blog, Greg Jefferys completed his treatment on 14 August. He is however, busier than ever in his crusade for access to cheaper hepatitis C drugs, especially since his story was aired on the ABC's 7:30 current affairs program. (View here: http://ab.co/1EQgX26.)
Mr Jefferys has been inundated with requests for advice and help. According to the ABC, he has helped more than 100 Australians get the hepatitis C drugs they need, and he doesn't make any money from it.
Hepatitis SA has also received a number of enquiries about getting drugs from overseas, including from one person who was asking the friend of a friend to get the drugs for him (for $900), without prior discussion with, or support from, his doctor.
It's worth pointing out that Mr Jefferys personally went to India, consulted with a doctor there and got a script before purchasing the medicine to bring home with him.
Mr Jefferys sees himself as a crusader taking on a global pharmaceutical company for failing to provide life-saving medicines at an affordable cost. But Australian health professionals and organisations warn against bypassing the Australian medical system. Hepatitis Australia has issued an alert and a fact sheet on issues to be aware of when importing drugs from overseas (http://www.hepatitisaustralia.com/importing-medicines/).
If you're thinking of by passing the Australian system and getting your hepatitis C medicine from overseas, it is vital that you speak with your doctor or other healthcare professionals. If you prefer to talk about this with someone else, call our Helpline on 1800 437 222.
For need-to-know news on hepatitis C treatment, visit Hepatitis Australia's treatment page http://www.hepatitisaustralia.com/hepatitis-c-facts/treatment-for-hep-c.
Related article: Importing Medicines - Guidelines for Clinicians