A Positive Move Towards Fewer Liver Transplants

The government’s announcement for the inclusion of two new drugs to treat the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme has been welcomed by Professor Geoff McCaughan, Head of Liver Injury and Cancer at the Centenary Institute and Head of Liver Transplant Unit, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Geoff McCaughan

Professor McCaughan is a world leader in hepatitis and liver disease research

The subsidy essentially means these very expensive drugs have become more accessible for those undergoing treatment and marks the first breakthrough in a decade for treatment of this chronic condition.

Professor McCaughan said that “this is a giant leap forward in reducing the need for liver transplants in Australia and it’s a great day for patients who suffer from chronic hepatitis C in this country.

“The introduction of these drugs means that we can cure up to 75 per cent of patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C – the most common strain of the disease. Treatment time will also be cut in half for many patients, from one year to six months.”

The two drugs, boceprevir and telaprevir, are the first HCV therapies to incorporate direct antiviral agents (DAAs), compounds which stop the proliferation of viruses. They open up the possibility of clearing HCV infection entirely in a significant number of cases, thus preventing them from becoming serious enough to demand transplantation.

The $220m the government has set aside for the next 5 years will have long term benefits for those suffering from hepatitis C and reduces the longer term effects of cirrhosis, liver cancer and the need for liver transplants. There are currently over 200,000 Australians infected with HCV.

Listen to Professor Geoff McCaughan’s exclusive ABC interview.

Read about Professor McCaughan’s research at the Centenary Institute here.

Donate to Professor McCaughan’s Hepatitis and Liver Disease research here.

  • su

    it is great to learn that try are early treatment for liver disease, however my daughter had her blood test since January 2013 and had subsequent blood test the results initial had three times above a normal reading and second test shows the rate had drop and the 3rd test the result have almost double normal reading. We have already sent her test results to Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick and the earliest appointment is 24th May, which i think takes too long.. I personally feel very concern that this type wait to see a specialist may cause more damage to her liver. I personally think all cases of liver reading test should be place under urgency instead of waiting game.