How new hepatitis C drugs could tackle liver cancer, too
With these drugs, hepatitis C treatment has minimal side effects, is short (8-24 weeks), and 95% of people who take the drugs are effectively cleared of the virus.
Although direct-acting antivirals have been available since 2014, they have been listed in Australia on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme since March 2016 for any adult with hepatitis C. General practitioners as well as specialists can prescribe the drugs, with no cap on numbers of people treated a year, no restrictions based on the stage of liver disease, or ongoing drug and alcohol use.
This A$1 billion hepatitis C treatment investment for the period 2016-2020 has been championed internationally as a major public health initiative.
In 2016, between March and December, more than 30,000 people in Australia started treatment, equating to 13% of the population living with chronic hepatitis C, and more than were treated in the previous decade.