Worries mount over access to hepatitis C drugs

2 minute read

A significant number of pharmacists are avoiding stocking expensive hepatitis C medicines


Patients with hepatitis C may experience delays in receiving their medication as reports emerge of a significant number of pharmacists avoiding stocking the expensive medicines.

Almost one quarter of pharmacists aren’t stocking the hepatitis cure drugs due to economic reasons, according to a reader survey on the Australian Journal of Pharmacy website.

At 59%, most pharmacies were providing patients with their medication, however another 7% said they would consider not stocking the medicines because of economic pressures, and another 8% said they only filled a limited number of prescriptions for the same reason.

“Pharmacies should be providing these drugs, which are lifesaving to patients with Hepatitis C, because our responsibility is always to care for our patients,” consultant pharmacist Debbie Rigby told AJP.

“So while I can appreciate some of the cash flow problems that have occurred, I don’t think we can pick and choose which drugs we will dispense to patients.”

With a pharmacy price of around $20,000 or more, the Pharmacy Guild has already called for regulatory and tax changes to help pharmacies with cashflow problems.

Ms Rigby, who is on the advisory board for hepatitis C drug supplier AbbVie, did note that the company offered some pharmacies 120-day extended payment periods.

She also said pharmacies had a responsibility to help patients gain access to the drugs.

“The guidelines say that you have to ensure that the patient has access to the drugs, by helping the patient identify a pharmacy that will dispense them,” she said.

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