Treatment changes will make hepatitis B management easier 

Media release May 31, 2018 

Pharmac has announced a decision to make treatments for viral hepatitis B more widely available from November 1, 2018.

The changes mean Pharmac criteria will be removed for Tenofovir and Entecavir, the existing anti-viral medications that are the mainstay of hepatitis B control, making them easier for patients to access. Although not all hepatitis B carriers will need treatment, those with persistent active hepatitis will all be able to access it.

Hepatitis B has a high occurrence among Maori, Pacific and east Asian communities. It can cause liver cancer and premature death and, if left untreated, can lead to liver failure. While a 12-week course of medication can cure most cases of Hepatitis C, treatment for hepatitis B is usually long-term.

Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand Medical Director Chris Moyes is pleased Pharmac is making these changes. “It will make management of viral hepatitis easier and, in conjunction with educational programmes, will enable more patients to receive ongoing treatment from their own GP.”

Patients who are suitable for treatment will still need to be referred to a specialist for initial assessment, but can then be managed by their GP.

The changes also mean:

  •  Tenofovir disoproxil will become Tenofovir Disoproxil Teva. From November 1 this year it will be the only funded brand of tenofovir disoproxil in communities and hospitals.
  • Entecavir will become Entecavir Sandoz, and will be the only funded brand of entecavir in communities and hospitals.
  • The Special Authority and Hospital Restrictions for both medicines will be removed on June 1, 2018.

The Hepatitis Foundation runs a long-term follow-up programme for people living with chronic hepatitis B. This helps people manage their illness effectively and improve their health outcomes.

 

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© The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand 2016