WELLINGTON, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of New Zealanders suffering from hepatitis C are set to benefit from a life-saving cure for the disease which is available from Friday.
Decision of the Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC) to fund new drug Maviret is a big step forward for the treatment of hepatitis C in New Zealand, Health Minister David Clark said in a statement.
"There are around 21,000 people diagnosed with hepatitis C in New Zealand and a further 30,000 are thought to have the disease but are undiagnosed. All of these people will potentially benefit from Maviret," Clark said.
Previous treatments were only available to around 3,000 people due to the type of hepatitis C they had, according to the minister.
"Maviret will cure more than 99 percent of New Zealanders with hepatitis C, regardless of the type or severity of liver disease and previous treatment," he said.
This provides a unique opportunity to eliminate hepatitis C from New Zealand, and should save 2,500 lives and removes the need for more than 500 liver transplants, statistics showed.
"Maviret is a simpler treatment, just one daily dose for a minimum of eight weeks. It also has fewer side effects and fewer interactions with other medicines, which should be reassuring for patients," Clark said.
The government is committed to building a strong, effective and equitable public health service for all New Zealanders, he said, adding it aims to eliminate viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030.