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Hepatitis C Treatment

Treatment for chronic Hepatitis C is available at Glebe Hill Family Practice

Dr Alice Frampton and Dr Gianni Fantini provide Hepatitis C treatment at Glebe Hill Family Practice. The treatment can be arranged without you needing to see a specialist or attend the hospital clinics.

Since May 1 2016, new generation direct-acting antiviral medications are available to Australians living with chronic hepatitis C. They are more effective, easier to take and have fewer side-effects than the older medications. The Australian Government has listed these new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), ensuring they are accessible and affordable to people with hepatitis C.  This is a leap forward in the management and treatment of hepatitis C and positions Australia as a world leader in publicly-funded access to these new, highly effective medicines.

Following a clinical assessment, these medicines are used independently or in combination with other medicines depending on the person’s particular situation. For most people, this will mean treatment without the need to use interferon. 

Don’t put your health at risk by waiting too long before seeking treatment for your Hepatitis C

It’s easy to understand why you might have waited for the new interferon-free treatments to become available. However, now treatment is much simpler and by waiting, you could be putting your health at risk.

If you’re 40 years of age or over, you’re likely to experience an accelerated rate of liver damage which increases your risk of developing cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure. This is called the ‘Liver Danger Zone’.

You should also bear in mind that symptoms of liver disease may not be felt until the liver is significantly scarred.

Please don’t put your health at risk by waiting too long for treatment. Book an appointment at Glebe Hill Family Practice to discuss Hepatitis C treatment with Dr Alice Frampton or Dr Gianni Fantini today.

Are the new medicines better than the previous ones?

Yes, the DAA medicines are:

  • more effective, resulting in a cure for 90-95% of people
  • taken as tablets only with very few side-effects
  • taken for as little as 8-12 weeks in most cases,
  • interferon-free for most people

Are the new medicines available for all people with Hepatitis C?

Yes, the DAA medicines are available through the PBS for all people living with hepatitis C over the age of 18 and who have a Medicare Card. However, the particular combination of medicines used will depend on a range of individual factors including genotype, prior treatment experience and whether or not you have developed cirrhosis (liver scarring).

What about people who currently inject drugs? 

There are no restrictions applied to people who inject drugs as they are a priority population for hepatitis C treatment.  Whether or not a person currently injects drugs should not be used as criteria for restricting access to the new medicines.

What information will the doctor need to know about your health before treatment can be prescribed?

Your Doctor at Glebe Hill Family Practice will do a number of tests and request certain information from you before treatment can be prescribed. These include:

  • undergoing blood tests to confirm you have active hepatitis C infection, and to determine the genotype (strain) of hepatitis C you have
  • undergoing a clinical examination looking for signs of cirrhosis (liver scarring)
  • undergoing a liver ultrasound, or Fibroscan® – a quick, non-invasive test (similar to an ultrasound) that measures the level of liver scarring to determine the severity of liver disease
  • discussing any previous treatments for hepatitis C you may have had
  • identifying any other illnesses or health complaints you have, and;
  • discussing any other prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, or other substances you are taking. This is important to avoid any possible drug interactions

What does treatment with the new medicines involve? 

The treatment regimens range between 8 and 24 weeks for a complete course of treatment. This will depend on your genotype, treatment history, whether you have cirrhosis and the combination of medicines used. Some treatments require only 1 to 2 tablets once or twice a day. For some treatment regimens, more than one medicine may be required.

It is very important that medicines are taken as instructed, so the doctor or nurse may also talk with you about your readiness to start treatment and discuss things that may impact on your ability to take the medicine regularly and as prescribed.

Will you need to have more tests during treatment?

Yes, the doctor will need you to have blood tests to monitor how your body is responding to the medicines. This means checking if the medicine is working effectively against the hepatitis C virus and that it is not negatively affecting your overall health.

At Glebe Hill Family Practice you would normally have a blood test followed by an appointment with your doctor once every 4 weeks while you are completing the course of treatment for Hepatitis C.

Where can you get your prescription filled?

Your prescriptions can usually be filled by your local pharmacy. However, it is important to note that some pharmacies may not have the medicines in stock and you may need to wait up to 72hrs to collect them.  This is due to the very high cost the pharmacies have to outlay to keep the medicines in stock.

How much do the medicines cost you? 

You will be charged the usual co-payment price you pay for the dispensing fee of each prescription. This is currently $38.30 for general patients and $6.20 for concessional patients.