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NZ marks over a year of funded hepatitis C treatment

World Hepatitis Day, 28 July: New Zealand marks over a year of funded hepatitis C treatment – enabling more than 2,000 Kiwis to be treated for hepatitis C with VIEKIRA PAK[i],[ii]

• An estimated 50,000 people in New Zealand have chronic hepatitis C[iii],iv
• Only 50% (25,000) of them are diagnosed, so 25,000 may not know they have it[iv]
• Anyone who may have been exposed to contaminated blood should ask their GP to test them for hepatitis C
• PHARMAC now funds direct-acting antiviral treatments that have high virological cure rates[1]ii,iii
• The World Health Organization’s global goal is to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030[v]; experts believe this is possible for New Zealandiv

NEW ZEALAND. Today, World Hepatitis Day 2017 marks just over a year since PHARMAC started funding interferon-free direct-acting antiviraltreatments for hepatitis C.ii

VIEKIRA PAK® (ombitasvir, paritaprevir, ritonavir tablets; dasabuvir tablets) and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV® (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir tablets; dasabuvir tablets; ribavirin tablets) are available via prescription from a general practitioner or specialistii. VIEKIRA PAK is approved for people living with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C, who make up around 56% of New Zealanders living with the virus.iv,[vi]

More than 2,000 patients have been prescribed VIEKIRA PAK since the PHARMAC reimbursementi, and with a virological cure rate of 97%,vi this means most of those patients are on their way to being cleared of virus.

Treatment with VIEKIRA PAK is fully funded in New Zealand.ii This means that it’s free (apart from the cost of visiting a prescriber).

Professor Ed Gane, Deputy Director and Chief Hepatologist at the New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit, contributed to the development of this new medicine for chronic hepatitis C, undertaking years of trials. He encourages anyone who thinks they might have been exposed to the disease to talk to their doctor.

“Hepatitis C is an infectious, viral disease and is the leading cause of liver-related deaths in this country, claiming more than 150 lives every year. Hepatitis C is also the leading cause of liver cancer, liver failure and liver transplantation. The good news is that we have treatments available that can cure the disease and prevent these terrible complications, and with ongoing improvements in awareness and appropriate management of the disease, it will be possible for us to eliminate it from New Zealand by 2030.”

Andrew Tompkin, General Manager of AbbVie New Zealand says the company is proud to be able to offer these treatments to New Zealanders, and help to reduce unnecessary suffering from hepatitis C.

“We are living in a new era for the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who are impacted by hepatitis C. AbbVie is committed to supporting positive outcomes not only for the patients themselves but also for their friends, family and the health system broadly.

“We look forward to a future where hepatitis C no longer causes chronic illness or claims the lives of New Zealanders,” he said.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which is spread by blood-to-blood contact. Those most at risk of hepatitis C are people who[vii]:
• Have injected drugs (even if only once)
• Have received a tattoo or body piercing using unsterile equipment
• Lived or received medical attention in a high-risk country (South East Asia, China, Eastern Europe (including Russia), or the Middle East)
• Had a blood transfusion or received blood products prior to 1992
• Have ever been jaundiced or had abnormal liver function
• Have ever been in prison
• Were born to a mother living with hepatitis C.
Anyone who has ever had jaundice, unusual tiredness or fatigue, or an abnormal liver function test should think about being tested. New Zealanders living with hepatitis C are encouraged to see their doctor to have their liver health assessed and discuss management options.
VIEKIRA PAK and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV are both oral, interferon-free treatments, to be taken for 12 weeks in most patientsvi. The therapies contain three direct-acting antivirals that work together to block three stages of the viral life cycle. Experts consider a patient to be cured of the hepatitis C virus if the patient has undetectable levels of viral RNA 12 weeks after completing the treatment
Prescription Medicines, VIEKIRA PAK® and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV® have risks and benefits and should be used strictly as directedvi. In Phase 3 clinical trials with VIEKIRA PAK and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV, most adverse events were mild in nature, with the most commonly reported being fatigue nausea, itching, and insomnia. As with all treatments in this class, it is also important to consider potential drug-drug interactions. People taking VIEKIRA PAK-RBV®, should discuss the additional considerations of ribavirin with their doctor, for example avoiding use in pregnancy (Category X), and monitoring for anaemia. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare



About AbbVie NZ
AbbVie is a global, research-driven biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world’s most complex and critical conditions. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to markedly improve treatments across four primary therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, virology and neuroscience. In more than 75 countries, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at AbbVie Limited 156 – 158 Victoria St Wellington New Zealand

For medical enquiries relating to VIEKIRA PAK® and/or VIEKIRA PAK RBV please contact AbbVie Medical Information or call 0800 900 030.

Consumer Medicine Information:
For a copy of the Consumer Medicine Information for VIEKIRA PAK and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV please refer to:

Important information about VIEKIRA PAK and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV

VIEKIRA PAK and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV are used to treat some types of chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis C in adults. Ask your doctor if these medicines are right for you. Normal doctor’s charges will apply. Always use strictly as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. Please refer to the Consumer Medicine Information that is available from your pharmacist,, or from the Medsafe website

VIEKIRA PAK is a combination therapy containing two different types of tablets: paritaprevir/ritonavir/ombitasvir (75/50/12.5 mg) tablets and dasabuvir (250 mg) tablets. VIEKIRA PAK-RBV is a combination therapy containing three different types of tablets: paritaprevir/ritonavir/ombitasvir (75/50/12.5 mg) tablets and dasabuvir (250 mg) tablets, plus ribavirin (200 mg) tablets.

The following information applies to both VIEKIRA PAK and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV
VIEKIRA PAK and VIEKIRA PAK-RBV include medicines called direct-acting antiviral agents, which have risks and benefits. You must not take them if you are allergic to any of the individual medicines or to any of the inactive ingredients. Do not take them if you have severe liver impairment or decompensation (Child-Pugh C), or if you take a medicine that contains any of the following: carbamazepine, colchicine (if you have certain liver or kidney problems), efavirenz, ergotamine or its derivatives, ethinyloestradiol-containing medicines (e.g. combined oral contraceptives), fusidic acid, gemfibrozil, midazolam (taken by mouth), phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampicin, St. John’s wort, salmeterol, sildenafil (when used for pulmonary arterial hypertension), simvastatin, terfenadine, or triazolam. See Consumer Medicine Information leaflets for a complete list. Do not give VIEKIRA PAK or VIEKIRA PAK-RBV to children or adolescents under 18 years of age. Tell your doctor about any other medical conditions you may have, especially if you have had liver disease other than hepatitis C, hepatitis B infection, HIV infection, or a kidney or liver transplant. Tell your doctor about any current or previous treatments for your hepatitis C. Tell your doctor if you or your partner are pregnant. Do not take VIEKIRA PAK or VIEKIRA PAK-RBV if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you do not feel well when taking VIEKIRA PAK or VIEKIRA PAK-RBV. Some of the more common side effects of treatment include: fatigue, nausea, itching, trouble sleeping, and unusual weakness or lack of energy. Some medicines and VIEKIRA PAK or VIEKIRA PAK-RBV may interfere with each other, so tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines.

The following information applies only to VIEKIRA PAK-RBV
Ribavirin may cause birth defects or death of an unborn baby. Therefore, you must not take VIEKIRA PAK-RBV if you or your partner are pregnant, and you must take extreme care to avoid pregnancy during treatment and for 6 months after completion of treatment with ribavirin. Females and males must use two reliable forms of contraception during this time. Do not take VIEKIRA PAK-RBV if you have had severe heart problems in the last 6 months, or have a red blood cell disorder, like thalassaemia or sickle-cell anaemia. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have or have had heart problems, gout, severe liver disease, or kidney disease. The most common side effects with VIEKIRA PAK-RBV include tiredness, looking pale, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, headache, cough, shortness of breath, dry skin, and rash.

AbbVie is a registered Trademark of AbbVie Inc. VIEKIRA PAK is a registered Trademark of AbbVie Ireland Unlimited Company. © 2017 AbbVie Limited, PO Box 11437, Manners Street, Wellington 6142, New Zealand. NZ-HCV-0030. February 2017.

[1] Cure defined as undetectable HCV RNA 12 weeks after the end of treatment (SVR12).

1 Cure defined as undetectable HCV RNA 12 weeks after the end of treatment (SVR12).
[i] Data on file – PHARMAC number of patients prescribed VIEKIRA PAK – NZ-HCV-0084
[ii] PHARMAC, Approval of funding for hepatitis C treatments, published 10 June 2016, last accessed 21 July, 2017
[iii] Ministry of Health. (2017, 28 June). Hepatitis C. Retrieved 21 July, 2017 from
[iv] Gane, E., Stedman, C., Brunton, C., Radke, S., Henderson, C., Estes, C., Razavi H. (2014). Impact of improved treatment on disease burden of chronic hepatitis C in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 127(1407), 61-74.
[v] World Health Organisation, Combating Hepatitis B and C to Reach Elimination by 2030, available here, last accessed 14 July 2017.
[vi] Medsafe. (n.d.). Medicines: Product Information. Retrieved 21 July, 2017 from
[vii] Hepatitis Foundation, last accessed 21 July, 2017.

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