Steve Irons MP Federal Member for Swan

Chair of Health Steve Irons welcomes $1billion to end Hepatitis C but says there is more to be done

Media Release- December 21, 2015

Federal Member for Swan, Steve Irons, chaired the report on the inquiry into Hepatitis C in Australia and has welcomed news the Commonwealth will invest more-than $1 billion to give all Australians with Hepatitis C affordable access to breakthrough cures.

Mr Irons was Chair of the Standing Committee on Health which tabled the report on the inquiry into Hepatitis C in Australia in June.

“The Committee recommended exploring ways in which the patients experience in general practice could be improved for people living with hepatitis C, through better information provision, improved treatment processes and patient counselling,” Mr Irons said.

“This investment is in line with the committee’s recommendation to improve the treatment process.”

“This money will go a long way into helping those with Hepatitis C, but Australia still has some way to go when it comes to reducing the stigma of those with this illness.”

“In our report, we also recommended the Australian Government, in collaboration with the states and territories, work to develop well-informed hepatitis C awareness campaigns targeted at the general community, populations at high-risk of hepatitis C infection, people living with hepatitis C and the wider community to highlight the impact of stigma.”

Hepatitis C is an infectious blood borne virus which attacks and causes inflammation to the liver, leading to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, liver cancer and, in some cases, death.

“It’s important we tackle diseases like this head on, and that includes providing the medicines needed to all Australians, but also raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with it,” Mr Irons said.

“Australia will become one of the first countries in the world to publicly subsidise these medicines for the nation’s entire population of Hepatitis C sufferers, no matter what their condition or how they contracted it, with broad access through both specialists and primary care.”

The PBS funding comes on top of $620 million in new and amended medicine listings announced in last Tuesday’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, taking the total medicine spend in MYEFO to more-than $1.6 billion.

Mr Irons said “Our Government is committed to tackling the budget to ensure when expensive medicines are recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, we can afford to make them available to everyone”.

“This is in stark contrast to the previous government, which tried to halt listing new drug recommendations until it could return the budget to surplus.”

“It’s estimated 230,000 Australians, one percent of the population, live with Hep C, and this announcement can effectively bring an end to this deadly and debilitating disease within a generation.”

Once the new Hepatitis C medicines are listed on 01 March 2016, the costs for patients will drop from up to $100,000 to the normal copayment for PBS medicine, currently $6.10 for concessional patients and $37.70 for general patients.

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