Crohn’s, leukaemia, acromegaly treatments listed

pills on $20 note

The Turnbull Government is listing almost half a billion dollars’ worth of new medicines from 1 September

“Without subsidy from the Turnbull Government, these medicines cost patients as much as $115,000 per year,” said Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Stelara® will be available for severe adult Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease which causes crippling pain and in many cases is a lifelong issue.

Australia has one of the highest rates of inflammatory bowel disease in the world with more than 80,000 people living with Crohn’s disease.

“This listing will help around 2,600 Australians each year who are living with the most severe type of Crohn’s disease, giving them treatment to help them live a normal life,” Mr Hunt said.

Janssen-Cilag welcomed the decision to list Stelara, which would otherwise cost patients over $68,600 per year.

“The PBS listing of Stelara represents an important advance in treating Australians with severe Crohn’s disease,” said Professor Rupert Leong, Director of Endoscopy at Concord Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney.

“Crohn’s disease is a debilitating and often complex condition to treat, with more than a third of patients typically not experiencing a response on initial treatment with a TNF inhibitor.

“Another third of patients typically have a transient response, requiring clinicians to consider either increasing the dose of their current treatment, or switching them to an alternate treatment,” he said.

Stelara is the first and only treatment available in Australia that targets interleukins (IL)-12 and IL-23 through a one-time, weight-based intravenous induction dose, administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional; followed by subcutaneous maintenance therapy injections every eight weeks.

“Patients with Crohn’s disease usually have elevated levels of IL-12 and IL-23, which is often considered the ‘inflammatory gateway’ of the disease. By targeting IL-12 and IL-23, STELARA may be able to disrupt or block the inflammatory cascade in patients with Crohn’s disease, helping to restore immune balance and stabilise intestinal symptoms,” said Professor Leong.

Zydelig® will also be made available to treat eligible patients with certain types of leukaemia, including relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic leukaemia. It will also support patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma.

Without subsidy, Zydelig® would cost $60,500 a year for follicular lymphoma patients and $115,800 a year for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic leukaemia patients.

“This medicine will provide vital treatment for patients who would otherwise have exhausted all other options,” Mr Hunt said.

“People living with FL or CLL/SLL have previously had very few treatment options available to them if they had failed to respond to, or were unsuitable for chemotherapy,” said Dr Chan Cheah, Consultant Haematologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Hollywood Private Hospital and the University of Western Australia.

“Zydelig is a targeted treatment option that has demonstrated clinically meaningful increases in progression-free and overall survival for these patients.”

The Government is also subsidising Somavert® for patients suffering from acromegaly, a rare condition characterised by a consistently high level of circulating growth hormone.

It can result in the enlargement of the jaw and extremities, and, over a prolonged period, may lead to patients suffering multiple health problems.

“Since coming into Government, the Coalition has helped improve the health of Australians by adding around $7.5 billion worth of medicines to the PBS,” the Health Minister said.

“The Turnbull Government has a rock solid commitment to Medicare and part of this commitment is ensuring people have access to medicine when they need it. We are continuing to deliver on this commitment.”

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