Hepatitis C is a viral infection affecting over 50,000 New Zealanders, although it is estimated only half are currently diagnosed. Untreated, 20-25 percent of those with the disease will develop cirrhosis, and without successful treatment, 5 -10 percent of those with cirrhosis will progress to life-threatening liver cancer or liver failure every year.
Major advances in the treatment of hepatitis C have been recently announced by PHARMAC and the Ministry of Health has been working with DHBs to revise the delivery of hepatitis C services by integrating service delivery across primary and secondary care.
Two new treatments for hepatitis C are being funded from 1 July 2016: Harvoni and Viekira Pak for hepatitis C infection. This announcement is a major advancement in the treatment of hepatitis C, with cure rates of more than 90 percent with 12 weeks of treatment.
For the first three months Viekira Pak and Viekira Pak-RBV will be listed with a restriction limiting access to funded treatment to infectious disease specialists, gastroenterologists and hepatologists. This restriction will be lifted on 1 October 2016, meaning that any eligible prescribers, including GPs, will be able to access full funding for these products from this date.
Find out more about the treatment changes, education and training, and the latest work underway within DHBs:
Refer to the PHARMAC website for information on the roll out of the new hepatitis C funded treatments. This includes product information, medical information for prescribers and pharmacists, and more details about patient eligibility for funded treatments.