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Cost of medicines to fall for thousands of Australians

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Minister for Health


24 June 2012


Around 45,000 people will benefit from new, cheaper medicines following the Government’s approval of eleven new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

“The listing of these medicines on the PBS will offer patients access to new, affordable treatments which will directly benefit their health,” said Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek.

Ms Plibersek said the new listings would include an important new treatment for Australians with cystic fibrosis.

“Mannitol (Bronchitol®) is an innovative treatment developed by an Australian pharmaceutical company, Pharmaxis, in an easy-to-use, portable inhaler,” she said.

“It is a medicine that reduces the amount of mucus build-up in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis.

“Mannitol can be used by patients, including children older than six years, who cannot use or are non-responsive to, medicines already listed on the PBS.

“In addition to mannitol, other Australians will also benefit in the coming months from the Australian Government’s decision to provide subsidised access to a further 10 medicines through the PBS.

“This will ensure more patients have greater access to the medicines and treatment they need at subsidised prices,” she said.

The new medicines are:

aflibercept (Eylea®) - for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration in patients new to drug treatment

auranofin (Ridaura®) - for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

bortezomib (Velcade®) - for the treatment of newly diagnosed bone marrow cancer for patients who are eligible for high dose chemotherapy, as part of combination therapy

cabazitaxel (Jevtana®) - for the treatment of a certain type of metastatic prostate cancer

denosumab (Prolia®) - for the treatment of osteoporosis in women aged at least 70 years with a bone mineral density measured as a T-score of -2.5 or greater

etanercept (Enbrel®) - for the treatment of children with severe chronic psoriasis

human menopausal gonadotrophin (Menopur®) - for the treatment of infertility as part of the IVF (in vitro fertilisation)/GIFT (Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer) program

icatibant (Firazyr®) - for the treatment of attacks of hereditary angioedema (unpredictable episodes of swelling in people that can impede breathing if affecting the throat)

pazopanib (Votrient®) - for the treatment of a certain type of kidney cancer

rasagiline (Azilect®) - for the treatment of Parkinson disease in certain patients.

The decision to list aflibercept (Eylea®) will benefit patients who have not previously received treatment for age-related macular degeneration.

“This listing of aflibercept (Eylea®) will reduce the number of visits to the doctor that some patients need to make to receive the injections, from every month to every two months,” Ms Plibersek said.

“This will particularly benefit patients in rural and regional areas who don’t have easy access to their doctor.

“Patients would have to pay more than $13,000 per year for this medicine without subsidised access through the PBS,” she said.

The Australian Government is also supporting patients with the rare genetic disorder known as Type 1 Gaucher disease through the decision to list an enzyme replacement therapy, velaglucerase (Vpriv®), on the Life Saving Drugs Program (LSDP). This will provide an alternative to the existing treatment, imiglucerase (Cerezyme®) and gives patients more options for life-saving medicines.

Listings are subject to final arrangements being met by the suppliers of the medicines.

The Government has also agreed to increase the price of six medicines currently listed on the PBS. This will ensure a number of essential medicines continue to be available. They include: heparin injection (preservative-free) for the prevention and treatment of blood clots, idarubicin capsules (Zavedos®) for the treatment of leukaemia, levonorgestrel intrauterine (Mirena®) for use as a contraception and treatment of abnormally heavy and pronged menstrual bleeding, metformin with glibenclamide (Glucovance®) for the treatment of diabetes, methyldopa (Hydopa®) for the treatment of high blood pressure and oestradiol vaginal tablets (Vagifem®) for use as hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women.

The price increases for these medicines will have no impact on concessional patients which constitute around 80 per cent of PBS prescriptions. The maximum amount they will pay for their prescriptions is $5.80. General patients will continue to have access to subsidised medicines and will pay between $0.57 - $3.54 more for these medicines.

A full list of the price increases is available on the PBS website at: