Cancer, cystic fibrosis treatments in new PBS listings

Medicines to help treat infants with cystic fibrosis along with new therapies for patients with advanced ovarian cancer will be subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Multiple new treatments were added to the scheme on January 1, which will see patients save tens of thousands of dollars in prescription costs.

Among the new medications on the list is an expansion of the cystic fibrosis treatment Orkambi to include one-year-olds.

Families would be subject to out-of-pocket costs of $232,300 a year for the treatment without the subsidy.

It’s estimated one in 2500 babies are born with cystic fibrosis each year in Australia, which can lead to persistent lung infections, breathing difficulty and organ damage.

The availability of a drug for women with advanced ovarian cancer has also been expanded on the scheme.

The drug Lynpaarza, designed to destroy types of cancer cells, will be included on the list of subsidised medications.

The expanded access is set to see more than 200 women benefit from the treatment, which would normally cost $123,000 for each round if it was not listed.

Subsidies will also apply to the leukaemia drug Calquence, used to treat patients with rare blood cancers.

The treatments will apply for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma.

More than 900 patients had access to similar treatments through the Pharmaceutic Benefits Scheme in 2022.

Patients with the rare genetic disease atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome will also be able have subsidised medication to treat the condition, where blood clots form in blood vessels and block flow to vital organs.

Without the subsidy, patients would have to fork out $384,800 every year for treatment.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the new listings would make more medicines affordable.

“These life changing listings will have a profound impact on people’s lives, and the lives of the people around them,” he said.

“Alongside cheaper prescriptions, 60-day scripts and encouraging more doctors to bulk bill, we are making health care more affordable and easing the cost of living burden for everyday Australians.”

More than 150 medications have been added or amended on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme since July 2022.

The new listings come as the cost of general prescriptions rose on January 1.

The maximum cost of prescriptions has risen from $30 to $31.60 for general patients, while those with a concession card will have a maximum of $7.70, up from $7.30.


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)


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