Health Minister under fire over PBS listings


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Greg Hunt criticised in mainstream media over medicines that have not been subsidised – but he emphasises the government cannot compel sponsors to list medicines on PBS

“Tens of thousands of patients with cancer, arthritis and other diseases are missing out on breakthrough new medicines approved for government subsidy despites assurances from Health Minister Greg Hunt that he would approve their listing,” wrote News Corp national health reporter Sue Dunlevy in an article published over the weekend.

Ms Dunlevy revealed a “secret list” of medicines that had been approved for government subsidy but never made it onto the PBS.

These included examples such as adalimumab (Humira), which was approved by the PBAC however the sponsor advised it would not proceed, and pembrolizumab (Keytruda), which the sponsor also said it is not proceeding with.

“We can reveal a medicine for crippling rheumatoid arthritis – Kevzara – has also been withdrawn after the company that makes it failed to reach a deal with the Federal Department of Health, ” reads the article.

The Government cannot compel a sponsor to list their medicine on the PBS, a spokesman for the Health Minister told News Corp.

By law for a medicine to be listed the expert PBAC had to recommend it and the sponsor had to accept its conditions, said the spokesperson.

“There are no cases under this Government where the PBAC has made a recommendation and the company has accepted the legally required conditions and the Government has declined to list,” he said.

The Health Minister confirmed this in a recent speech at Medicines Australia’s PharmAus conference.

“The commitment is absolute to list where the PBAC recommends and obviously where that’s accepted by the companies,” Minister Hunt said.

“With the new listings that I’m expecting we’ll be able to complete within the coming two weeks and therefore announce on 1 November, there will be no medicines for which the PBAC has made an offer and those conditions by law, which have to be accepted, had been accepted, which are then waiting for approval.

“That’s part of the deal that we struck with Medicines Australia. And so, where the PBAC makes the recommendations and their conditions are accepted, then we will list it.

“On our watch, and in particular over the last two years, there’s been a 40% reduction in the time to listing.”

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