Better treatment for Hepatitis C patients 

16 May 2019

Kiwis living with Hepatitis C now have access to a new life-changing treatment following PHARMAC’s decision to fund Maviret. This is a combination of glecaprevir 100mg and pibrentasvir 40mg.

Maviret comes with a number of benefits, the most significant that it can be prescribed to all Hepatitis C patients no matter what type they have, making genotype testing redundant.

Approximately 21,000 New Zealanders have a hepatitis C diagnosis, but only 3000 have had treatment because of their genotype; this new medication will revolutionise treatment for the rest of the population.

College Medical Director Dr Richard Medlicott supports PHARMAC’s decision to fund Maviret, saying it will be rewarding to treat patients he hasn’t previously been able to.
“Maviret can be used to treat all genotypes of the virus increasing New Zealanders access to treatment. I’ve had patients who’ve had to order medication from overseas and some that haven’t been able to access any - being able to treat these patients will be very rewarding for GPs.”  Shorter course of treatment (eight weeks versus 12–24 weeks), fewer side effects compared to older treatments such as Viekira (dasabuvir sodium & paritaprevir + ritonavir + ombitasvir & ribavirin) and fewer interactions with other medications is another benefit patients will have. 

“It’s one dose daily, so it’s an easier treatment option. It is generally a well-tolerated medication in terms of side-effect profile.” 

While this new change means better treatment and easier access to treatment, patients will now need to pay for a GP visit as opposed to visiting outpatients for treatment. This may put a financial strain on some patients. 

To help ease this, Work and Income NZ (WINZ) have announced that Community Service Cardholders can apply to have the cost of their GP visit and prescription covered by the Special Needs Grant.

“It’s very rewarding to cure people of disease, but for some, the cost barriers of seeing their GP is an issue, so it’s good to see that there is a funding option for those patients.”

Only pharmacies enrolled in the Maviret AbbVie Care Pharmacy Programme can provide your patient with funded Maviret – staff at these pharmacies have received extra training support for people with hepatitis C while they are taking Maviret.

Following on from the rollout of Maviret, Ministry of Health have been working in partnership with the Hepatitis Foundation and the Health Promotion Agency on a three-month campaign encouraging at-risk people to get tested.  

If your practice is interested in supporting the campaign, there are a number of resources available, including this poster.