News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 

Genetic markers being used to target oral hepatitis C drug

Please note embargo:

Pharmac_P540c

Genetic markers being used to target new oral hepatitis C drug

A person’s genetic makeup will be used to target a new funded oral treatment for hepatitis C patients from 1 September.

PHARMAC will begin funding boceprevir (Victrelis) from 1 September 2013 for certain patients with the chronic liver infection. Boceprevir will be funded when used as a triple therapy in combination with pegylated interferon with ribavirin.

PHARMAC Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie says many hepatitis C patients do not respond well to current treatments, but that this could improve with the addition of boceprevir.

“Clinical evidence shows that, given the genetic characteristics of a patient, a simple genetic test can fairly accurately predict how they might respond to treatment,” says Dr Moodie.

“There is a group who we know respond poorly to current treatment. They are the ones we think will benefit most from the addition of this new treatment.”

About 25-35% of patients with certain genes showed a sustained response to the currently available treatment of pegylated interferon and ribavirin. By adding boceprevir to the treatment of these patients, the response rate increases to 70–75%.

As well as adding greater effectiveness to available treatments, Dr Moodie says boceprevir is the first funded oral treatment specifically for hepatitis C.

Patients will be genetically tested to determine whether they qualify for boceprevir (in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin) as a first-line treatment.

Boceprevir will also be funded for people who have tried but not responded completely to a course of pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

Dr Moodie says though many people live with hepatitis C without ever knowing it, the infection can cause significant health issues including hepatocellular carcinoma, liver failure, which may require a liver transplant.

Pharmacological treatment aims to reduce the likelihood of these transplants being required. In total, PHARMAC expects around 300 patients to start triple therapy in the next year.

In addition to funding boceprevir, PHARMAC has negotiated a price reduction for the Pegasys brand of pegylated interferon with ribavirin. Together, the funding of these hepatitis C treatments will cost $17.8 million over five years, with some of this cost being refunded through confidential rebates negotiated with both suppliers.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 
Snow Business: Coronet Peak Turns 70

In 1947 Coronet Peak in Queenstown opened with just a rope tow pulling keen skiers up a mountain, the first commercial ski field to open in New Zealand. More>>

Howard Davis: 'Dunkirk'

The British have an extraordinary penchant for celebrating catastrophic military defeats. It is not only the Battle of Hastings, the Charge of the Light Brigade, and Gallipoli that have become immortalized in prose, poetry, and movies ...
More>>

Conservation: Gecko Stolen From DOC Visitor Centre

A long-term resident at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre has been stolen. The Marlborough green gecko was reported missing on 19 July. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Rare Ingredients

When I heard Kiazim was publishing a cookbook, I jumped at the opportunity... I was back in New Zealand, but how hard could it be to create Turkish-Cypriot cuisine on the opposite side of the world? Well, it turns out — pretty damn hard. More>>

Remembrance: British Memorial Design Revealed

After years of work with Weta Workshop, the British High Commission has revealed the final design of the United Kingdom’s presence in Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: The Whole Intimate Mess

Alison McCulloch: Walker’s account of what she went through is harrowing and intimate, and, at risk of sounding trite, very brave. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland