New listings

Patients with intestinal failure associated with Short Bowel Syndrome and those suffering spasticity in the upper limbs will have access to greater medicinal support, thanks to new and amended PBS listings from October 1

Health Minister Greg Hunt discussed several of the listings, including Teduglutide for Short Bowel Syndrome.

“Short Bowel Syndrome is a disorder that arises from an inability to absorb food nutrients and fluid across the gastrointestinal tract, and one that is often caused by surgical removal of all or part of the small intestine,” Minister Hunt said.

 “Australians experiencing SBS will be able to purchase first time listing Revestive (Teduglutide), a medicine that improves the absorption of nutrients and fluid from the gut.

 “Up to 70 patients per year will benefit from the listing, with the PBS subsidy saving patients up to $284,700 per year for treatment.

 “In addition, the current listing of Dysport (clostridium Botulinum Type A Toxin – Haemagglutinin C Complex) will be extended to include patients with moderate to severe spasticity of the upper limbs, following an acute event.”

The Minister said Dysport temporarily relaxes overactive or contracting muscles, and resolves stiffness in the arm and/or hand.

 “Up to 6,600 patients per year will benefit from the listing. Without the PBS subsidy, patients might pay more than $9,700 per course of treatment.”

And in an Australian first, an immunotherapy plus anti-angiogenic plus chemotherapy combination will be listed on the PBS for the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer Tecentriq (atezolizumab) in combination with Avastin (bevacizumab) and a platinum-doublet chemotherapy will be reimbursed for the first line treatment of patients with metastatic non-squamous NSCLC, and for those with EGFR mutant or ALK-positive NSCLC, after failure of appropriate targeted therapies.

According to Lung Foundation Australia CEO, Mark Brooke, increasing treatment access is crucial to improving patient outcomes.

“Lung cancer has one of the lowest five-year relative survival rates (17%) compared with Australia’s top five most commonly diagnosed cancers; breast cancer (91%), colorectal cancer (69%), prostate cancer (95%), and melanoma (91%),” he said.

“Early diagnosis, support for those with lung disease, and equitable access to treatment and care is pivotal to improving outcomes for Australians living with lung cancer.

“The PBS listing of an additional NSCLC treatment option arms patients and their carers with hope, and potentially extra time to spend with their loved ones, which will be warmly received by the lung cancer community.”

The Minister also told Channel Seven’s David Koch that the listing of Besponsa for leukaemia would benefit patients.

“For leukaemia, in particular acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, Besponsa would have cost over $120,000 and will now be available. And nausea which comes with chemotherapy, which can be such an additional and agonising complication for so many people, will be available for more than 7000 patients – a new medicine called Apotex.”

Fifteen common medicines will see their price reduced.

“In particular, you have medicines for high cholesterol such as ezetimibe which helps over 300,000 patients in Australia,” Mr Hunt told Mr Koch.

“So there will be numerous listeners this morning who will be aware that they’re on ezetimibe. That will be up to $6 a script cheaper and depending on somebody’s prescription, that might be $60 or $70 a year.

“And that makes a massive difference to the cost of living for families as well as ensuring that the medicines are provided cheaply.”

“All of these PBS listings were recommended by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee,” Mr Hunt said.

 “Since 2013, the Australian Government has listed over 2,100 new or amended items on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings per month – or one each day – at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.”

AMA national president Dr Tony Bartone told reporters on Monday that, “I applaud the Government’s decisions today. But, obviously, there are always going to be more drugs, more medications that need to be funded and brought back to the system. And so anything to expedite that process is a good thing”.

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