PHARMAC funds genetically-targeted Hep C drug

PHARMAC has announced it will fund a new hepatitis C drug targeted to patients who carry a particular gene variant, highlighting the rise of personalised medicine.

Personalised MedicineThe government drug buying agency will begin funding boceprevir (Victrelis) from next month for certain patients for the treatment of hepatitis C in combination with other drugs. The treatment will be targeted to a difficult-to-treat subgroup of patients who carry a particular genetic variation in the interleukin-28B (IL28B) gene.

“Clinical evidence shows that, given the genetic characteristics of a patient, a simple genetic test can fairly accurately predict how they might respond to treatment,” said PHARMAC Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie in a media release.

“There is a group who we know respond poorly to current treatment. They are the ones we think will benefit most from the addition of this new treatment.”

In total, PHARMAC expects around 300 patients to start therapy with boceprevir (in combination with two other drugs) in the next year.

Media coverage of the announcement includes:

Radio New Zealand: New drug for Hep C treatment
Otago Daily Times: Pharmac to fund new Hepatitis C drug
Newstalk ZB: Funding announced for hep C drug
MSN News NZ: Pharmac to fund new hep C treatment
New Zealand Herald: Hep C drug could triple cure rate
TV 3 News: Pharmac to fund new hep C treatment