A new hepatitis C drug that works for all major genotypes has been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1st August 2018.
Maviret is a once-a-day, eight-week treatment for non-cirrhotic adults, effective against hepatitis C genotypes 1 to 6.
Clinical studies have shown a 98 per cent cure rate for treatment naive, non-cirrhotic patients after eight weeks of treatment. Compensated cirrhotic patients achieved a 98 per cent cure rate after 12 weeks of treatment. (More information here.)
This PBS listing comes as part of a billion-dollar investment by the Federal Government in new direct-acting antiviral treatments for hepatitis C, with the aim of reaching the World Health Organisation's target of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030.
As of July 2018, an estimated 170,000 Australians are living with hepatitis C, with about 10,000 new infections each year. Left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to scarring of the liver and serious liver disease, and is responsible for over 600 deaths in Australia each year. An estimated 90% of Australians with hepatitis C are both treatment naive and non-cirrhotic, and may be eligible for treatment with Maviret.
Professor Gregory Dore, Head of the Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, University of NSW, said of the listing:
"The inclusion of Maviret on the PBS provides a further tool in the strategy to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat in Australia, and globally. The short duration of eight weeks for patients without cirrhosis and who have not previously received treatment, and the high cure rates across all strains of hepatitis C are impressive aspects of this new regimen."
Leanne Myers, Nurse Practitioner at Peer Based Harm Reduction WA, said:
"Healthcare professionals who have regular contact with high-prevalence hepatitis C populations should start conversations about testing and treating the virus.
"We have an opportunity to eliminate hepatitis C with new treatments that can be used for patients with diverse characteristics and differing needs."