Mandatory liver biopsy for hep B removed

MORE GPs may take the lead role in treating patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV), with the removal of the mandatory requirement for a liver biopsy. 

From 1 November, patients will no longer have to undergo biopsy before HBV medication can be prescribed, and instead may opt for a liver function test.

Supporters of the change say the requirement had blocked many with HBV from accessing treatment, as patients were either reluctant to have the invasive procedure or they lived in a remote area.

“There certainly have been patients we’ve been trying to get on to treatment in the past that have absolutely refused liver biopsy,” said Dr Benjamin Cowie, epidemiologist at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory.

“We see this as a fundamental barrier being removed.”

Pilot programs will also be rolled out next year offering GPs training to prescribe HBV medication without the need for