PHARMAC funding decision gives Kiwis with hepatitis C access to a potential cure

Life-changing treatment for New Zealanders living with hepatitis C will be available from February 1, 2019, after PHARMAC funds a new treatment.

The medicine known as Maviret (glecaprevir and pibrentasvir) can be prescribed to people with hepatitis C regardless of the type of hepatitis C virus they have.

Director of operations Lisa Williams says funding Maviret means most people with hepatitis C will now have the opportunity to access a funded treatment with the potential to cure hepatitis C.

“In many instances, this treatment will avoid associated liver cancer, the need for a liver transplant or early death. Access to this drug is a significant advancement in treatment.”

Around 3000 people have already accessed hepatitis C treatments Harvoni and Viekira Pak since PHARMAC began funding them in 2016. Maviret provides an option for those people who weren’t able to access a funded treatment previously due to their genotype of hepatitis C.

Ms Williams says that, by using these medicines well, we can make a real difference to the well-being of our community, but this also includes reaching out to people who haven’t yet been diagnosed with hepatitis C.

“While this funding decision is a major step forward, an estimated 50 percent of people who have hepatitis C have not yet been diagnosed and may not even suspect they have it.”

“It’s estimated that 50,000 people could benefit from this newly funded treatment. We are continuing to work with the health sector to find ways to identify and treat even more people,” she says.

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© The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand 2016