It has been proposed by the federal Government to distribute subsidized life-saving hepatitis C drugs, that would benefit nearly 200,000 hepatitis C infected patients in Australia. A small percentage of the infected individuals (2000) currently receive treatment for their condition. If appropriate steps are not instituted at the earliest, Australia might soon witness a rapid rise in the cases of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Hepatitis C is a viral disease that is transmitted through contaminated blood. Approximately 25% get rid of the infection while the rest develop a chronic form of the disease. If left unattended, it can progress to liver cirrhosis and liver failure, eventually leading to liver cancer.
As a part of the new plan, patients would now be exempted from taking up a liver biopsy before treatment pegylated interferon can be initiated. A 45 to 90% of patients can have their hepatitis C infection eradicated if interferon therapy is instituted. Liver biopsy is associated with a small amount of risk and is usually painful. This prevents many patients from availing the diagnostic procedure and further treatment.
'I think this move will significantly reduce the various obstacles in the way of people with hepatitis C accessing treatment. This is a significant breakthrough in terms of trying to ensure not just that people don't get the disease, but if they get it they are treated appropriately so they lose the disease,' said Mr. Abbott, welcoming the proposal.