New Hepatitis C medicine could cure thousands of patients

News article

01 February 2019

A new medicine, which will be able to treat more people who have chronic hepatitis C, is being funded from today (1st February 2019).

The new PHARMAC-funded treatment has been described as an important milestone for the management of hepatitis C in New Zealand.

Previously access to most of the funded treatment for people with hepatitis C has been based on genotype.

Now however, PHARMAC is funding Maviret which has the potential to cure up to 99% of patients regardless of the type of hepatitis C they may have, the severity of liver disease, or previous failed treatments.

The Ministry of Health welcomes and supports PHARMAC's decision to fund Maviret.
Professor Ed Gane, Chair of the Ministry of Health’s Hepatitis C Implementation Advisory Group says Maviret is a safe and effective oral treatment.

“Currently, there are approximately 21,000 people in New Zealand, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, who would benefit from Maviret who haven’t been able to benefit from previously funded treatments,” says Professor Gane.

“One of the world’s leading experts in the fight against hepatitis, Dr Homie Razavi from the Centre for Disease Analysis in the US visited New Zealand late last year and says funding Maviret will make life considerably easier for both patients and health practitioners,” says the Ministry's Population Health and Prevention acting Deputy Director-General, Dr William Rainger.

Dr Razavi says access to new hepatitis C treatments is crucial to achieving the World Health Organization's (WHO) global target of eliminating viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030 (New Zealand was one of the 194 countries that adopted the WHO’s Global Hepatitis Strategy).

“Maviret is a simpler treatment than what’s been available – just one daily dose for a minimum of 8 weeks. There’s no requirement for pre-treatment genotype testing, and it’s hoped that change is likely to make prescribing by general practitioners and other community based prescribers more straight forward,” says Dr Rainger from the Ministry.

The Ministry and PHARMAC have been working together to ensure general practices and enrolled pharmacies are aware of the rollout of Maviret and what’s required to treat patients with Maviret.

“We see general practice continuing to play a vital role in the treatment of hepatitis C in New Zealand. The Ministry, DHB regions and PHARMAC have been working to increase hepatitis C education and training to health professionals working in the community.”

Education materials, including clinical pathways developed by the Ministry of Health's Hepatitis C Implementation Advisory Group, have been revised to support the use of hepatitis C treatments in primary care.

“The rollout of funding for Maviret comes just weeks before our nationwide “Get hep C treated” awareness campaign launches,” says Dr Rainger.

“We’ve been working in partnership with the Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand and the Health Promotion Agency on the new 3 month campaign.”

“The campaign is focused on the more than 20,000 people in New Zealand who do not know they have hepatitis C.”

For more information on hepatitis C and the treatment of it, see the Hepatitis C page.

For more information on Maviret and how it works, visit the PHARMAC Hepatitis C treatments page

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