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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
AUSTRALIA: Hepatitis C Drug Breakthrough
Laura Little
March 12, 2013
Wyndham Weekly (Australia) (02.26.13)

With the approval of two new drugs for the Australia Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), hepatitis C patients will have better access to treatment. After months of lobbying by health workers, the Australian government announced in February that it would place telaprevir and boceprevir on the PBS. The new drugs have been found to increase cure rates and reduce treatment times. St. Vincents Hospital’s Dr. Alex Thompson, head of hepatology research, declared that telaprevir and boceprevir were raising cure rates from 40 percent to 80 percent for chronic hepatitis C. Chief Executive Melanie Eagle of Hepatitis Victoria stated that the two drugs would have "real life impacts" on patients. According to Hepatitis Victoria, infection rates are on the rise in the western Australian suburbs, as is the number of patients needing treatment. Maribyrnong has the third highest rate of hepatitis infections in metropolitan Melbourne, followed by Brimbank Large populations of at-risk groups also reside in the Australian cities of Hume, Wyndham, and Melton. Eagle emphasized that the drugs offered patients hope. "They are a more successful, less intrusive form of treatment. We're urging people with hepatitis to make an appointment with their doctor and discuss these new treatments now.” Prime Minister and Labor MP Julia Gillard said that by adding the drugs to the PBS, the Australian government was preventing people with hepatitis C from having to pay up to $78,000 a year for treatment.