Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the most commonly notified diseases in Australia. There are an estimated 230,000 people living with chronic HCV, including 58,000 with moderate to severe liver disease. Treatment for chronic HCV is available, helping patients to 'clear' the virus. New treatments available on the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 March 2016 achieve clearance rates greater than 90%.
Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) agents are now available on the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS). These treatments are highly effective, all oral regimens with few side effects. Nearly all patients are suitable for DAA therapy, including those previously intolerant of or ineligible for interferon therapy. Most people will only need 12 weeks of treatment.
GPs and other medical practitioners are able to prescribe these regimens under the S85 General Schedule in consultation with a specialist, or if experienced in the treatment of hepatitis C, independently. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has recognised the need to broaden access to treatment to reduce the burden of disease.