Medicines Australia supports world hepatitis day 2016

On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, Medicines Australia calls for greater awareness about hepatitis and the ongoing need for disease prevention, testing and treatment.

The day is particularly significant in Australia as it marks the year innovative therapies were introduced to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), achieving major advances in treatment for Hepatitis C, transforming this disease into a treatable and in some cases curable condition.

Investing in these therapies will provide significant savings to our health system and hospitals from curing this life threatening disease.

Research by Professor Frank Lichtenberg from Columbia University demonstrates that medicines on the PBS saved 140,000 years of life, as well as $7 billion in savings to the Australian hospital system in 2011 alone.

Access to hepatitis treatments help to reduce serious liver diseases and prevent premature deaths. A liver transplant can cost around $150,000, with transplant patients needing to miss multiple working days due hospitalisations. Time off for care-givers is often required, making the broader impact on productivity significant.

Hepatitis continues to be a major public health issue in Australia. According to the Department of Health around 230 000 people living in Australia have a chronic hepatitis C infection, including 58 000 with moderate to severe liver disease. Hepatitis Australia suggests that around 225,000 people are living with chronic hepatitis B.

Medicines Australia acknowledges the partnership between the innovative medicines industry and the Australian Government in providing new treatment options for patients.

We welcome the Australian Government’s investment in these treatment options for patients. New medicines recently listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for Hepatitis C are expected to increase the cure rate to 90%.

Medicines Australia also acknowledges the role of vaccines in preventing disease. The hepatitis B vaccine offers very effective protection against infection with the disease. It is part of the routine childhood immunisation programme in Australia. While many people clear the hepatitis B virus, in others it can lead to a high risk of death from liver cirrhosis or cancer.

For every $1 spent on routine childhood vaccinations an estimated $5 in direct medical costs are saved, with another $11 saved in indirect costs (for example loss of productivity through time off work).

World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to raise awareness in our community about the prevalence of hepatitis and new ways we can prevent and treat this disease in our community.


James Boyce
Phone: 0423 239 265