GPs given free rein to prescribe hep C drugs

GPs can now initiate direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) for hepatitis C without consultation with a specialist, following the relaxation of PBS criteria.

The move came into effect on 1 November and applies to GPs who have experience in managing hepatitis. But GPs do not need to have formal accreditation or training to prescribe the new antivirals.

When the DAAs were listed on the PBS in March, there was a stipulation that GPs could prescribe the drugs only in consultation with an infectious diseases physician, gastroenterologist or hepatologist.

However, professional groups, such as the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), lobbied for a relaxation of the criteria.

There were many community-based prescribers who were skilled in hepatitis C treatment and who should be allowed to initiate DAAs for patients without the delays and costs involved in a consultation