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PHARMAC funds potential Hepatitis C cure

Life changing treatment for New Zealanders living with hepatitis C will be available from 1 February 2019, after PHARMAC funds a new treatment.

The medicine known as Maviret (glecaprevir and pibrentasvir) can be prescribed to people with hepatitis C regardless of the type of hepatitis C virus they have.

Director of Operations, Lisa Williams, says that funding Maviret means that most people with hepatitis C will now have the opportunity to access a funded treatment that has the potential to cure hepatitis C.

“In many instances, this treatment will avoid associated liver cancer, the need for a liver transplant or early death. Access to this drug is a significant advancement in treatment,” says Ms Williams.

Around 3000 people have already accessed hepatitis C treatments Harvoni and Viekira Pak since PHARMAC began funding them in 2016. Maviret provides an option for those people who weren’t able to access a funded treatment previously due to their genotype of hepatitis C.

Ms Williams says that by using these medicines well, we can make a real difference to the wellbeing of our community, but this also includes reaching out to people who haven’t yet been diagnosed with hepatitis C.

“While this funding decision is a major step forward, an estimated 50% of people who have hepatitis C have not yet been diagnosed and may not even suspect they have it,” says Ms Williams.

“It’s estimated that 50,000 people could benefit from this newly funded treatment.”

“We are continuing to work with the health sector to find ways to identify and treat even more people.”

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