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Wider access to Hepatitis B drug

Media Release

Wider access to Hepatitis B drug

More people will be able to have the hepatitis B drug lamivudine under government subsidy following a decision by PHARMAC.

From 1 June 2005 people with the liver infection hepatitis B who are undergoing chemotherapy will be able to have lamivudine fully subsidised.

PHARMAC Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie says this funding decision recognises a need identified by clinicians.

“This decision meets a clinical need,” says Dr Moodie. “Our advice is that there is about a 20 to 50 percent chance that chemotherapy will reactivate the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) in people who carry it.”

“This decision will help avoid that occurring and the subsequent liver damage that can result.”

Extending funding of lamivudine to people in this group will see about 200 additional people treated each year, at a total cost over five years of about $800,000.

The decision is the latest in PHARMAC’s ongoing investment programme which has seen access widened to drugs for advanced breast cancer and mental health in the current financial year, and new treatments added for diabetes, severe pain, HIV and respiratory disease.

ENDS

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