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New treatment funding good news hepatitis C NZers

Press Release

New treatment funding good news for New Zealanders with hepatitis C

Auckland, 3 February 2004 – Hepatitis Foundation Chief Executive John Hornell has welcomed the announcement of funding for a new treatment for hepatitis C. Pegasys® (peginterferon alfa-2a) will be available for people with chronic genotype 1 hepatitis C from 1 March 2004.

“The availability of Pegasys is good news for people with chronic hepatitis C. Having the most effective therapy available means a cure has become a realistic goal for more people,” said Mr Hornell.

“Living with hepatitis C can be like having a time-bomb in your liver. You may remain relatively free of symptoms for years but most people experience some diminished quality of life,” said Mr Hornell. Common symptoms include fatigue, feeling unwell and alcohol intolerance. Eventually the virus can lead to liver inflammation, liver scarring, liver cancer or liver failure resulting in premature death.

“Hepatitis C is a serious public health issue that continues to grow at epidemic proportions quietly in the shadows. The availability of Pegasys should significantly help curb the long-term effects of the disease, but widespread preventive education to raise community awareness is urgently needed to stop the increase of new hepatitis C infections,” said Mr Hornell.

People wanting additional information on hepatitis C are advised by Mr Hornell to contact the Hepatitis Foundation or Hepatitis C Resource Centre. “It is important that people with chronic hepatitis C access the health system and are given the opportunity to commence a treatment, which has an effective cure rate. People with chronic hepatitis C can be referred by their GP or the Hepatitis Foundation to a specialist to discuss treatment options and to determine whether this new treatment is right for them.”


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