The Australian government wants to eliminate hepatitis C within one generation – a ‘miracle drug’ with a price tag of $100,000 will be provided at a cost of only $37.70 for general patients and $6.10 for concessional patients.
Health Minister Sussan Ley announced the scheme which will provide affordable medication for the over 230,000 people suffering from the disease in Australia, making it one of the first countries in the world to subsidize drugs for the entire population, no matter what their condition is. The subsidy also goes to inmates in prison, where hepatitis C are very high. Across the whole country, about 1 in every 100 people are suffering from the disease.
“However, with this announcement there is great hope we can not only halt the spread of this deadly infectious virus but eradicate it altogether in time,” she said.
Sofosbuvir, sold under the brand name Sovaldi is a drug used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. It has been marketed since 2013 – with a huge price tag attached, one that the Australian government refused to subsidize back in 2014. But the proven track record of the drug seems to have changed their minds.
The game changing new drugs have a success rate of over 90% across the entire infected population, while also being faster, less invasive and causing less side effects. It can be taken orally in most cases, across a time span as short as 8 weeks. However, the $100,000 price tag for the treatment was, in almost all cases, prohibitive.
Hepatitis Australia chief executive Helen Tyrrell described the government’s decision as “simply fantastic”.
“Christmas will be a particularly joyous time for many people now,” she said. “The uncertainty is over and they now have the prospect of a truly happy and healthy 2016. This will be lifesaving for some people, and it will bring quality of life back to many more people.”
Total costs will be about $1 billion, which amounts to approximately 0.0006% of the country’s total GDP.