Direct-acting Antivirals (DAAs) 

DAAs are transforming the way that HCV is being treated. They are very effective, come in tablet form, and are given for 8-12 or (for complex cases) 24 weeks. They are better tolerated than the older medications for HCV. The chance of cure using these drugs is 90-95 percent. They allow interferon-free treatment for all common genotypes in Australia. Anyone over 18 years with a Medicare card is eligible for treatment, regardless of current or past injecting. 
What is the cost of the new medicines?

Patients will pay just the normal PBS co-payment for a prescription of these medicines – currently $6.30 for concessional patients and $38.80 for general patients. These co-payments are discounted by $1 at some community pharmacies, which could reduce the cost further to just $5.30 or $37.80 per prescription. Without subsidy, the high prices of these medicines would put them beyond the reach of most Australians.

In addition, Closing the Gap prescriptions are available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of any age who present with, or at risk of, an existing chronic disease. That includes hepatitis C. This allows eligible non-concessional patients to be charged the concessional rate. Patients who are normally concessional do not need to pay a patient co-payment for each PBS item (although mandatory charges may still apply).

A range of medicines for the treatment of hepatitis C are available through the PBS. These medicines include:

  • daclatasvir (Daklinza®)
  • ledipasvir with sofosbuvir (Harvoni®)
  • sofosbuvir (Sovaldi®)
  • ribavirin (Ibavyr®)
  • paritaprevir with ritonavir with ombitasvir and dasabuvir (Viekira Pak®)
  • paritaprevir with ritonavir with ombitasvir and dasabuvir and ribavirin (Viekira Pak–RBV®)
  • elbasvir with grazoprevir (Zepatier®)
  • sofosbuvir with velpatasvir (Epclusa®)

The PBS listing for peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin (Pegasys RBV®) also allows its use in combination with sofosbuvir.

PBS-listed drugs are changing frequently so check the Australian Recommendations for the Management of Hepatitis C infection: a consensus statement (August 2017) for the lastest information.