Praise for PBS expanded listing

More Australian adults can now access subsidised ADHD medication Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)

From today (1 Feb), the Government has expanded the listing of Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) to include patients who are diagnosed with ADHD after they turn 18 years old.

Prior to this, Vyvanse was only subsidised for Australians who were diagnosed as children, with those diagnosed in adulthood paying full price.

Rachel Worsley, founder and CEO at Neurodiversity Media, described the expanded PBS listing as a coup for this latter group of patients.

“It now allows us to access a cheaper, affordable alternative,” Ms Worsley told AJP.

“It only requires me to take it once a day as opposed to three times a day for dextroamphetamine,” she said.

“And it removes the unfair arbitrary barrier where if you were lucky to be diagnosed with ADHD as a child, you could access subsidised Vyvanse as a child and into adulthood, but if you were only diagnosed after the age of 18, you had to pay full price of up to $120.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt estimates that around 20,000 patients who access a comparable treatment for ADHD could benefit from the new treatment option.

Without PBS subsidy, patients would pay more than $1,200 per year for treatment. They will now pay $41.30 per script, or $6.60 with a concession card. The listing was recommended by the PBAC.

ADHD can look different in adults, with some symptoms overlooked, said Minister Hunt.

Ms Worsley pointed out that like many women with ADHD, she wasn’t diagnosed until she was an adult thanks to the harmful stereotype that ADHD only occurs in boys.

“I was priced out of a genuine medication alternative that could be more effective than what I currently take,” she said. “Thankfully, this disparity has been corrected.”

There are a few steps pharmacists can take to ensure people with ADHD feel supported, said Ms Worsley.

“Pharmacists should consider encouraging people with ADHD to set regular monthly reminders to collect their monthly medication, as many of us often forget,” she told AJP.

“ADHD should be treated holistically and diet supplements can be important ingredients to help us manage ADHD, so being across any relevant evidence-based supplements that could help manage ADHD and dosages (e.g. fish oil) can be helpful for supporting people with ADHD.”

Also on Ms Worsley’s wish list is a consistent record of prescribing rules on ADHD medicines as well as their PBS pricing across Australia.

“There is a lot of confusion. Some are subsidised for adults and kids, some are kids only, and prices vary wildly. I pay about $20 a month for dextroamphetamine at Chemist Warehouse, I did pay up to $35 at Priceline at one point,” she said.

“I’ve been lucky to get away with six monthly scripts from my psychiatrist, it just means I have to stick my script at one pharmacy for six months and go to the same one.

“I’ve heard people had to go monthly back to their psychiatrists and pay $200 for a 15-minute script-writing appointment. Pharmacists need the right info to educate patients on how many times they actually need to dispense their meds – it could save a lot of money and effort.”

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