Thousands of Kiwis eligible for taxpayer-funded Hepatitis C drug aren't accessing it

Thousands of New Zealanders who are eligible for a taxpayer funded Hepatitis C drug are not accessing it as they don't know it exists.

There are more than 50,000 people in New Zealand have Hepatitis C and a staggering half of them, 25,000, are thought to be undiagnosed.

The drug Viekira Pak is used to treat Hepatitis C and claims to have a 95 per cent cure rate.

The drug became fully funded by taxpayers in 2016 and since then 2,500 have been treated.

Around 9,000 people who are eligible for the drug have not come forward.

Hepatitis C is carried by the blood and can be picked up by those who have injected drugs, received a tattoo or piercing which isn't sterile, been in prison, or had a blood transfusion before 1992.

Pharmac Deputy Medical Director, Dr Bryan Betty says: "If you do have Hepatitis there is now an effective cure for the disease. So yes there is a lot of activity going on in this sector to actually raise awareness about the need for testing for high risk patients."

There are more than 50,000 people in NZ diagnosed with the illness. Source: 1 NEWS