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Whooping cough and diabetes targeted by new PBS listings.

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Minister for Health and Ageing


1 September 2008

Whooping Cough And Diabetes Targeted

By New PBS Listings

From 1 September 2008, the liquid form of clarithromycin will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the treatment of pertussis or ‘whooping cough’, and for atypical Mycobacterium infections. An additional brand of blood glucose tests strips for diabetics will also be added to the PBS.

The listing of the liquid form of clarithromycin (KlacidĀ®) will offer patients more choice of treatment for pertussis and infections caused by mycobacteria, and in particular will help patients who have difficulty swallowing tablets. The tablet form is already PBS-listed.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease characterised initially by symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and runny nose, then by coughing fits that may last for up to two months. It is mostly found in young children in non-immunised populations. Other complications of the disease include encephalitis, pulmonary hypertension, secondary bacterial superinfection and pneumonia.

Pertussis is a nationally notifiable disease in Australia, and laboratory-confirmed cases are reported to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System. In 2007, a total of 5,327 cases of pertussis were reported. Outbreaks of pertussis are smaller in vaccinated populations, with greater reduced mortality and morbidity.

Patients with atypical Mycobacterium infections usually present with swelling and inflammation of the lymph nodes but, if they have low immunity, the infection can involve other tissues and may become a very serious infection. The disease is relatively uncommon in children. No additional cost is expected for the PBS as clarithromycin in the liquid form will serve existing patients.

The listing of an additional brand of blood glucose test strips (On-Call PlusĀ®) will offer more options to people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Over one million Australians currently have diabetes. No additional cost is expected for the PBS as the test strips will serve existing patients.

Information about medicines subsidised by the Australian Government through the PBS is available at

Media contact only: Sean Kelly - 0417 108 362