Over 130,000 people in Australia will benefit from new and extended medicine subsidies through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Included in the listings announced by Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek are ground-breaking treatments for chronic hepatitis C.
The Australian government will pay more than $220 million over five years to subsidise the drugs boceprevir (Victrelis) and telaprevir (Incivo).
The drugs are expected to be available in the next few months at a maximum cost to patients of $36.10. Patients would have to pay up to $78,000 a year for those medicines without subsidised access through the PBS.
Hepatitis C represents a significant public health problem in Australia. It is estimated that at least 220,000 Australians are living with chronic hepatitis C.
“More than 40% of people seen needing liver transplants have had chronic hepatitis C. These drugs, in combination with existing treatments, will lead to a much better cure rate,” Ms Plibersek said. “Over the next few years, we hope 9,000 cases of liver damage will be prevented and we will stop the need for liver transplants for 870 people.”
As well as the new treatments for hepatitis C, the Australian government has also agreed to subsidise an oral contraceptive, as well as treatments for Parkinson’s disease, for type 2 diabetes and for high cholesterol.