The Federal Government has announced two new groundbreaking treatments for chronic hepatitis C will now be subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, said the Government will provide over $220 million over five years to subsidise boceprevir (Victrelis) and telaprevir (Incivo), for people over 18 with a certain type of chronic hepatitis C (genotype 1).

“These medicines could double the cure rate and shorten the treatment duration by six months,” Ms Plibersek said.

As one of the most commonly reported notifiable diseases in Australia, hepatitis C represents a significant public health problem. It was estimated in 2011 that more than 300,000 Australians had been exposed to the hepatitis C virus and at least 220,000 were living with chronic hepatitis C.

Unlike other types of hepatitis, there is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C and medication is the only way to manage the disease.

In addition to the new treatments for hepatitis C, the government has also agreed to list an oral contraceptive, as well as treatments for Parkinson disease, for type 2 diabetes and for high cholesterol.

The new listings are:

  • boceprevir (Victrelis®) and telaprevir (Incivo®) – for people at least 18 years old with a certain type of chronic hepatitis C (genotype 1).
  • levonorgestrel with 20 mg ethinyloestradiol (Femme-Tab ED®) – for use as an oral contraceptive.
  • rotigotine (Neupro®) – for the treatment of Parkinson disease as additional therapy for patients being treated with other medicine for this condition.
  • sitagliptin with simvastatin (Juvicor®) – for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.