PBAC recommendations pave way for watershed year in hepatitis C fight

AIVL is happy to announce the very good news that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) – the expert committee that makes recommendations to the Australian Government on which drugs should be subsidised so they are accessible and affordable for the Australian public – has made a series of positive recommendations to the  Federal Health Minister in relation to 3 new generation hepatitis C treatment drugs that were up for consideration at its March 2015 Meeting.

This is really great news for everyone living with chronic hepatitis C in Australia but it is important to stress that this is not the end of the process. From here, these positive recommendations from PBAC must now go to the Federal Health Minister who takes them to the Federal Cabinet for final approval before the medications can be listed for funding under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Since the first of the new generation hepatitis C treatment drugs “sofosbuvir” was rejected by PBAC in July 2014, AIVL, its state and territory member organisations and many other community-based organisations and individuals with hepatitis C have worked hard at the local and national levels to advocate for immediate access to the new life-saving hepatitis C treatment drugs. This outcome is very positive in this context and well done to all involved! But we are not there just yet! We now need to keep working together to ensure Ministerial & Cabinet approval as soon as possible.

The key points are that at its March 2015 Meeting “the PBAC recommended the listing of ledipasvir/sofosbuvir and sofosbuvir and daclatasvir for the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C (CHC)”. They also noted that listing of these treatments would allow for treatment of genotypes 1-6 CHC. Further PBAC also considers it appropriate for these new medications to be listed under the General Schedule rather than under the S100 Highly Specialised Drugs Program to facilitate better and increased access to hepatitis C treatment overtime. Listing under the General Schedule would allow for the potential for hepatitis C treatment to be prescribed outside of specialist, hospital-based clinics and for community pharmacy based dispensing of medications.

Please check out the PBAC online report for further information.

If you have questions about the recent PBAC recommendations please contact AIVL and we will do our best to answer them for you. This is an important and positive step forward for people with hepatitis C in Australia and one that is urgently needed!

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