In March 2016 new direct acting agents (DAAs) for chronic hepatitis C infection became available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). At the time the criteria allowed the new treatments to be prescribed by GPs in consultation with an appropriate specialist. As of the 1st of October 2016 the criteria has been revised so that medical practitioners who have completed appropriate training, or are experienced hepatitis C treatment prescribers, can do so without consulting a specialist.
HepatitisWA Executive Director Frank Farmer said “This is good news as when medical practitioners feel confident in prescribing the treatments they can streamline the process by not having to consult with a specialist, which will minimize delays for patients”.
The new hepatitis C treatments are rapidly changing the circumstances around hepatitis C. The new treatment regimens are generally of three months duration, are tablet based, have fewer side effects and importantly, they have a ninety-five percent cure rate.
Already it is estimated in excess of 26,000 Australians have accessed the new treatments, however Western Australia has lagged behind other jurisdictions in the uptake of the new DAA treatment for chronic hepatitis C infection. Only an estimated 7% of eligible individuals in WA have initiated the curative DAA treatments.Making prescribing easier for community based GPs will make treatment more accessible to people living with hepatitis C.
Australia is leading the World regarding hepatitis C treatments accessibility by making them available through community based GPs with no restrictions on potential patients. If Australia can maintain the momentum regarding the uptake of hepatitis C treatments, elimination of hepatitis C in Australia is possible in the coming decades.
There are several online training resources in the new hepatitis C treatments available to general practitioners and these can be accessed at the following websites:
For further information, contact HepatitisWA on (08) 9328 8538.