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Newly Funded Hepatitis C Treatment Will Help Curb Epidemic

Newly Funded Hepatitis C Treatment Will Help Curb New Zealand's Silent Epidemic

From the 1st of September hepatitis C sufferers will have a new treatment option thanks to VICTRELIS ™ (boceprevir) being funded for people with chronic viral hepatitis C, genotype 1. This includes patients being treated for the first time as well as those who have not responded to previous therapy.

VICTRELIS is the first new hepatitis C treatment made available to New Zealanders in the last decade. Chronic hepatitis C (HCV) is a serious viral infection of the liver that affects around 50,000 New Zealanders.

Hepatitis C genotype 1 is the most common form of the condition affecting approximately 50% of all known sufferers. If left untreated, hepatitis C can cause serious liver disease including cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death.

Professor Ed Gane, chief hepatologist and deputy director of the New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit at Auckland City Hospital says, “VICTRELIS is a protease inhibitor and works directly on the hepatitis C virus to stop it replicating. It is used in combination with other drugs - peginterferon alfa and ribavirin – which prevent the virus from becoming resistant to VICTRELIS.”

When added to other hepatitis C drugs - peginterferon alfa and ribavirin; VICTRELIS dramatically increases the chances of being cured. In patients who have never been treated before, VICTRELIS can almost double cure rates and for patients who have already failed previous therapy, it can treble the cure rate. This can be life changing, especially for patients who have been the hardest to treat – those with cirrhosis and those who have previously failed treatment.

Another advantage of VICTRELIS is that in almost half of the patients, total treatment time can be shortened from 48 weeks to 28 weeks.

Today, hepatitis C cirrhosis is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver failure. By offering a new chance of a cure, we can help prevent progression of liver disease, thereby reducing the rate of liver cancer and the need for liver transplants in New Zealand.

New Zealand Hepatitis Foundation Chief Executive Officer, John Hornell, says “It is fantastic to be able to offer hepatitis C patients a treatment that improves their chances of being cured. Hepatitis C is a disease many people are unaware of and even if they do know about it, they are unsure of treatment options. This means patients often present late with severe complications making the disease more difficult to treat and cure.

“We estimate there are 50,000 New Zealanders who have contracted hepatitis C with less than 25% being diagnosed. However thanks to new and more effective treatment options, there is no reason why people should not be diagnosed, treated and cured. However it is important to identify if you have been at risk and to get tested.”

VICTRELIS has been developed by Merck & Co Inc., known in New Zealand as Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD). MSD New Zealand Director, Paul Smith, says, "MSD is a global healthcare leader with a long standing heritage in the treatment of hepatitis C. Merck & Co researchers developed the first approved therapy for chronic hepatitis C in 1991 and the first combination therapy in 1998. In addition to ongoing studies with VICTRELIS, extensive research efforts are underway to develop additional innovative oral therapies for viral hepatitis treatment.”

For more information or questions about hepatitis C please contact your GP or the Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand

Use: In combination with two other medicines (peginterferon alfa and ribavirin) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (a viral infection of the liver) Type 1 in patients ( 18 years) who have compensated liver disease and who either have not previously received, or have failed, interferon alfa treatment (pegylated or nonpegylated). When VICTRELIS should not be taken: Hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients of VICTRELIS. Patients with autoimmune hepatitis or any other problem with your immune system; serious liver problems other than chronic hepatitis C; galactose intolerance (the body is unable to absorb galactose); Lapp lactase deficiency (the body is unable to digest milk and milk products); Glucose-galactose malabsorption (the small intestine's is unable to transport and absorb glucose and galactose). Co- administration with the following medicines: oral midazolam, oral triazolam (a sedative, when given by mouth); amiodarone (used for heart-beat problems); ‘ergot’ type medicines, such as dihydro-ergotamine mesylate or ergotamine tartrate; sildenafil, tadalafil (when used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension); alfuzosin (used to treat an enlarged prostate); simvastatin, lovastatin (used to treat high cholestrol); pregnancy or planning pregnancy, male partners of pregnant women use contraception (including at least 6 months after treatment conclusion), breast-feeding. Precautions: Must be administered in combination with peginterferon alpha and ribavirin; VICTRELIS is not recommended for patients under 18 years or elderly; caution when using with the following medicines: rifampicin (used in the treatment of tuberculosis); carbamazepine (used in the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder); phenobarbitalm, phenytoin (anti-seizure medication); digoxin (used to treat congestive heart failure); amiodarone, quinidine (used for heart-beat problems); methadone (pain killer); pentamidine (used to treat or prevent the development of a serious type of pneumonia); some neuroleptics (psychiatric medication); drospirenone-containing medications (alternative contraceptives should be considered). Side effects: Fatigue; anaemia; nausea; taste change; increase in infections; diarrhoea; vomiting; dry mouth; chills; fever; influenza like illness; irritability; weight decreased; decreased appetite; unusual weakness; painful and swollen joints; muscular ache and pain; headache; dizziness; insomnia; depression; anxiety; cough; shortness of breath; shortness of breath while exercising; hair loss; pruritus; dry skin; rash.

VICTRELIS (Boceprevir). Prescription Only Medicine.

All medicines have risks and benefits. VICTRELIS is fully funded for those who meet specified criteria. A doctor's visit fee and prescription charge will apply. VICTRELIS is a Prescription Only Medicine. Use only as directed. If you have side effects see your doctor, pharmacist, or health professional.

Based on data sheet prepared 26 July 2012. Supplied by: Merck Sharp & Dohme (NZ) Limited, Newmarket, Auckland. For additional product information, consult the Data Sheet and/or Consumer Medicine Information (CMI), available on request (phone 0800 500 673) or at the Medsafe website TAPS No: PP4194

About MSD
Today's MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD is a tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Whitehouse Station, N.J., U.S.A. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


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