Greater access to life-changing medicine for Australians with ADHD

Australian adults living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will soon have more affordable access to a life-changing treatment option, thanks to its expanded listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

On 1 February, the Government is expanding the listing of Vyvanse® (lisdexamfetamine) to include patients who are diagnosed with ADHD after they turn 18 years old.

The PBS listing extension means Vyvanse® is now subsidised for Australians diagnosed as adults, rather than as children.

Around 20,000 patients accessed a comparable treatment for this condition and could benefit from this new treatment option. Without PBS subsidy, patients might pay more than $1,200 per year for treatment. They will now pay $41.30 per script, or $6.60 with a concession card.

ADHD can look different in adults, with some symptoms overlooked. This medicine may help to increase a patient’s ability to pay attention, stay focused, and stop fidgeting.

Some studies suggest that up to three per cent of Australian adults have ADHD.

The Australian Government continues to make important medicines available to Australians at affordable prices.

This listing has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Since 2013, the Australian Government has approved more than 2,550 new or amended listings on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $12.4 billion.

The Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

New PBS listing brings greater hope for Australians with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Australians with a rare, fatal heart condition will soon have subsidised access to a ground-breaking medicine for the first time, thanks to its new listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

From 1 February, Uptravi® (selexipag) will be PBS listed for the first time to treat Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), for use in combination with existing PAH therapies.

It is estimated over 700 Australians could access Uptravi® for PAH through the PBS each year. Without subsidy, patients might pay more than $41,000 per year to access this medicine.

As a result of this listing, patients will now only pay $41.30 per script or $6.60 for concessional patients.

This listing can provide some patients with improvement in daily activities and quality of life, as well as delaying the need for injectable treatments and reducing the risks associated with IV infusions.

PAH is caused by narrowing or blockage of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs. The heart needs to pump against this higher pressure to keep blood flowing through the lungs, making it work harder which can eventually cause heart failure.

PAH is a complex disease and can advance quickly if left untreated. Uptravi® can delay the progression of PAH for some patients.

The Australian Government continues to make important medicines available to Australians at affordable prices.

Each of these listings has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Since 2013, the Australian Government has approved more than 2,550 new or amended listings on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $12.4 billion.

The Government’s commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

Community Pharmacy to join COVID-19 vaccine workforce

Community pharmacies around Australia are being invited to join the nation-wide effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to millions of Australians over the coming months, as work continues to protect more people from the deadly pandemic.

The Australian Government is committed to providing access to safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19, and the distribution effort will be one of the largest logistical operations in our country’s history.

An expression of interest (EOI) process will commence on 1 February 2021 for community pharmacies around Australia to participate in the, “Community Pharmacy COVID‑19 Vaccination Program,” to immunise priority populations from Phase 2a (expected from May 2021) onwards of the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination rollout strategy.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said, “Community pharmacy will be an important partner in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.”

“Utilising the existing network of thousands of community pharmacies will ensure the general population have broader access to COVID-19 vaccinations, provide choice in where the community receive a vaccine, and address barriers to access some parts of rural and regional Australia,” Minister Hunt said.

“Participation in the program will be voluntary and pharmacies will need to demonstrate they meet the highest safety standards and have capacity and capability to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, as well as ensuring they continue to provide important services to their local communities. These standards have been informed by the expert medical advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).”

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, said community pharmacists across Australia welcomed the opportunity to be part of the healthcare sector’s commitment to ensuring the maximum possible uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Some 94 per cent of pharmacies are members of the pharmacy profession’s quality assurance program, QCPP, and the robustness of this program underpins the sector’s ability to meet the challenges of the pandemic and the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations, while maintaining the levels of service and medicine delivery critical to their role as frontline healthcare professionals,” Mr Tambassis said.

“With a network of some 5.800 pharmacies across Australia, appropriately trained pharmacists are ideally placed to provide the opportunities and access for Australians to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

“Our members are committed to helping protect communities in all areas of the country and, as has been shown during all phases of this pandemic, will continue to go above and beyond for their patients.

“The Guild looks forward to helping ensure the resources and skills of pharmacists are recognised and quickly utilised in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.”

An EOI process commenced recently for general practices to assist in the delivery of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and community pharmacies will be another important vaccination point for many communities.

Community pharmacies will be incentivised to provide both doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Australians wishing to be vaccinated, to ensure maximum uptake of the vaccine.

The Australian Government will continue to work with state and territory health authorities and the health sector to finalise the locations for vaccine distribution.

All health professionals involved in the vaccination program will have undertaken specialised training, which is currently in development. This training is expected to be rolled out from early February.

Many of Australia’s community pharmacies are already critical in the delivery of the seasonal influenza vaccines across the entire population, and their efforts in stepping up to support the COVID‑19 vaccine program will be important in ensuring wide accessibility and take up.

This will be the first time a national community pharmacy vaccination program will be rolled out funded by the Commonwealth Government.

More information about the Governments COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy is available at health.gov.au and the EOI will be issued from 1 February 2021.

The Government thanks the community pharmacy sector for their constructive engagement and collaboration over recent months, in particular the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

Boosting support for pharmacies in Dubbo

Pharmacies in Dubbo will for the first time receive $3,000 per year from the Federal Government’s Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA) program.

Federal Regional Health Minister and Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton said changes to the Coalition’s RPMA program will help maintain access to medicines and pharmacy services in Dubbo.

“Community pharmacies, like Orana Mall Pharmacy, play a vital role delivering medicines and essential health services for the third of Australians who live in regional, rural and remote areas,” Minister Coulton said.

“They continue to do a tremendous job supporting the health and wellbeing of regional patients and this is certainly evident during natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Government recognises the importance of maintaining the pharmacy network to provide a steady and reliable supply of medicines and other pharmacy services, in particular to people in the regions.”

Minister Coulton said the changes are a key outcome of the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement (7CPA) signed with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia in June 2020.

Co-owner of Orana Mall Pharmacy in Dubbo and an elected official of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Simon Blacker, said the RPMA was a vital support in helping community pharmacies meet the needs of patients in regional, rural and remote areas.

“Under the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement signed last year, the substantial increase in funding under this important program has resulted in 400 more pharmacies across regional, rural and remote Australia now being eligible for support,” Mr Blacker said.

“This means they can provide more services to patients in these areas, which at times have been may have been left at a disadvantage compared with urban pharmacies.”

Mr Blacker said the new arrangement brought regional pharmacy classifications in line with the same rurality model used for GPs.

“Overall, this provides a fairer and more equitable outcome for pharmacies and patients in regional, rural and remote Australia, with the potential for further opportunities into the future which would improve health outcomes in these local communities,” Mr Blacker said.

Minister Coulton said the Coalition Government boosted its investment in the RPMA program from $16 million per year to $21 million per year under the 7th Community Pharmacy Agreement. Across regional Australia the RPMA program will support more than 1,200 pharmacies, which includes 400 new eligible pharmacies to participate in the program.

ONLINE COURSES ADDED TO SUMMER SKILLS PROGRAM

An expansion of fee-free Summer Skills training courses is now available for school leavers with new online courses on offer, as part of the JobTrainer initiative.

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the Summer Skills program, launched in November 2020, has expanded to include seven TAFE NSW online short courses targeting school leavers from last year.

“In designing the Summer Skills program, the NSW Government has ensured the training on offer is aligned to local industry needs,” he said.

“We need to provide the opportunities that help school leavers find their feet in these uncertain times. That’s why we’re delivering practical and fee-free training opportunities commencing this summer. Online learning is a terrific way to upskill at your own pace,”

Mr Lee said all the courses come from the $320 million committed to delivering 100,000 fee-free training places as part of the NSW Government’s contribution to the JobTrainer initiative.

“There are more than 100,000 fee-free training places available through TAFE NSW and approved providers for people across NSW to reskill, retrain and redeploy to growth areas in a post COVID-19 economy.

“I encourage anyone impacted by the pandemic to see what training options are available in 2021.”

Enrolments are open for Summer Skills training in:

  • Cyber Concepts;
  • Introduction to working in the health industry;
  • Construction materials and Work Health and Safety;
  • Mental health;
  • Business administration skills;
  • Introductory to business skills; and
  • Digital security basics.

 

Full details on all available fee-free courses on offer and their eligibility as part of the NSW Summer Skills program is here, and more information on the JobTrainer initiative is here.

FUTURE OF EDUCATION IN REGIONAL NSW OPENS IN ARMIDALE

Students are beginning the 2021 school year in the upgraded Armidale Secondary College which opened today, the largest investment in education for regional NSW.

The $121 million upgrade means there are now 104 classrooms, including specialised spaces for science, industrial arts and hospitality, improved performing arts and sports facilities and connections between indoor and outdoor learning, as well as a new agricultural facility.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the school was an incredible asset for the entire community.

“Armidale Secondary College will serve this community for generations to come and shows the commitment this government has to education in the regions,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I want to ensure every child in NSW has the opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter where they live or what their circumstances may be.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the school is now the jewel of regional education and is looking forward to more like it opening across the state.

“Opening Armidale Secondary College today gives us a glimpse of the future of education for kids living in the bush,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The school is the first of its kind, accommodating more than 1,500 students, it is fitted with the best in specialised facilities including a multipurpose hall which will be completed in early 2022.”

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she was committed to delivering the best schools and education for students learning and living in the bush.

“I am dedicated to making sure we get the best outcomes for our students – particularly our regional students,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Armidale Secondary College is a boost for the entire region. It will change lives and enhance the futures of thousands of students for years to come.”

The NSW Government is investing $7 billion over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver more than 200 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW.

DR FIONA MARTIN MP SAVES SIBBICK STREET RESERVE

Dr Fiona Martin MP, Member for Reid, has secured the future of Sibbick Street Reserve in Russell Lea to ensure the park remains a local community greenspace for future generations.

“Whether it’s families enjoying the play equipment or residents making use of the basketball court, Sibbick Street Reserve is a hub of activity in Russell Lea,” Dr Martin said.

“From the beginning, I have worked alongside the community, the Commonwealth Government and local Council to make sure Sibbick Street Reserve will be a place that residents can enjoy into the future.”

In June 2019, the Commonwealth Department of Finance presented the City of Canada Bay Council with an opportunity to purchase Sibbick Street Reserve as the land’s long-term lease approached expiry in 2025.
The City of Canada Bay Council initially offered a nominal fee for the transfer of the land, which did not meet the requirements of the Commonwealth Property Disposal Policy.

“In the absence of a reasonable offer from the Council, the property disposal policy requires the Commonwealth to sell the property on the open market,” Dr Martin stated.

“Members of the community feared that the land would be sold off to developers once the lease expired, but I was never going to allow that.”

Dr Martin worked alongside Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, to ensure Council took appropriate steps for the transfer of the land to take place.

“I’m pleased to share that the sale agreement stipulates that this land must remain a community greenspace and can never fall into the hands of developers,” Dr Martin stated.

“Sibbick Street Reserve will remain a community park under the stewardship of the local Council for generations to come.”

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS INTO THE WORKFORCE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN REID

The Morrison Government is investing in innovative strategies to address the barriers preventing people with mental illness from finding and keeping a job.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the Government has committed an additional $45.7 million to extend two programs dedicated to helping young people with mental health difficulties join the workforce.

The funding will be used to double the number of headspace sites running the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support Program to 50 and to support headspace National to continue the Digital Work and Study Service.

“A job is a game-changer and that is why the Government is so focussed on helping people to get into work,” Minister Ruston said.

“This program has never been more important given we have seen young people disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in terms of jobs losses, which we know can compound the mental health impact so many are feeling as a result of the pandemic.”

Member for Reid, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said the Individual Placement and Support Program will now be run at the Ashfield headspace thanks to the additional Government investment.

“The program is a tailored approach that can help improve job outcomes for young people experiencing mental health difficulties,” Dr Martin said.

Having practised as a psychologist prior to entering Parliament, Dr Martin is confident that evidence-based programs can affect real change.

“This is fantastic news for our local community because we know career assistance hand-in-hand with clinical support can make a profound difference in the lives of young people and ensure they can reach their full potential.”

Professor Patrick McGorry, executive director of Orygen which runs the program with headspace, welcomed the Government’s commitment to making a real lasting difference in the lives of people who face barriers to work.

“The onset of mental illness often occurs in young people which, by the age of 25, can significantly affect their ability to transition from study to work,” Professor McGorry said.

The expansion of the Individual Placement and Support Program will allow more than 6,000 youth under the age of 25 experiencing mental health difficulties across Australia to receive specialist vocational and employment support in tandem with clinical treatment to find and keep a job over the next four years.

Urgent review of lethal shark net measures needed

An alarming new report showing a drastic decline in shark and ray populations is yet another reason shark nets and lethal drum lines must be removed from Australia’s beaches and oceans.

Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Whish-Wilson, said action was needed urgently.

“Fixed-drum lines and mesh-nets are designed to entangle and kill sharks but are also indiscriminate killers and weapons of mass destruction to protected marine life.

“There is no evidence that nets and drum lines make ocean-goers safe. They are merely designed to provide a sense of security.

“Australia is the only country in the world to utilise these lethal and unjustified measures, making us an international embarrassment.

“Failure from the Federal Government to take action to reverse the decline in shark and ray populations in light of such a damning new report would be inexcusable.

“The Greens have been campaigning for over a decade to replace and transition away from lethal shark nets with measures that both help protect human life and marine life.

“The issue of shark mitigation needs to be a federally coordinated approach that advocates for evidence-based programs and consistency across states.

“As a start The Greens urge the Federal Government to end exemptions granted to state governments that allow them to conduct trials of lethal shark control measures.

Senator Whish-Wilson chaired the 2017 Senate inquiry into shark mitigation and deterrent measures that recommended NSW and Queensland phase out shark nets, immediately replace lethal drum lines with SMART drum lines and increase funding and support for the development and implementation of non-lethal mitigation measures.

“The Greens have a plan to manage the risk of shark encounters and strike the right balance, in both public debate and policy, between the role of government and personal responsibility.

“The Greens would seek to end federal government exemptions for lethal shark mitigation measures and use the COAG Meeting of Environment Ministers to push for state governments to end lethal measures that are within their jurisdictions.

“The Greens would also put $50 million over ten years towards research and development of non-lethal shark mitigation measures including establishing a national sharks working group.”

Greens urge Morrison to introduce stronger environment laws after scathing review

The Greens are calling on the Morrison Government to implement stronger environment laws before we lose our precious nature and wildlife for good, after the release today of a scathing major review.

Responding to the release of the final report from the once-in-ten-year review of Australia’s environment laws led by Professor Graeme Samuel, Greens Spokesperson for the Environment Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“The Samuel Report sounds the alarm that Australia’s environment is under unprecedented stress. Without urgent action and a full reform package we risk losing our native wildlife and iconic natural places for good.

“After sitting on the report for 90 days, the Morrison Government needs to respond with a genuine commitment to a full reform package that makes our environmental laws stronger, with an independent watchdog to hold corporations and governments to account.

“We need environment laws that are fit for protecting nature in the face of climate change.

“There is one path forward for the Morrison Government and that is to accept the warnings in the Samuel Report of the dire straights our environment is in and commit to action.

“Our environment laws are too weak and are failing to do the job of protecting our environment.

“Professor Samuel says at the outset of his report that ‘The EPBC Act is out dated and requires fundamental reform’. He warns that ‘Governments should avoid the temptation to cherry pick from a highly interconnected suite of recommendations’.

“What is needed is stronger laws and an independent cop on the beat to enforce them. Anything less and there will be more dead koalas, our forests and bushland will be destroyed and our oceans polluted.

“The Government must scrap its Tony Abbott reforms of 2014 and implement a full reform agenda informed by the advice of their own expert.

“The rest of the world is working out how to save the planet – Australia needs to join them with urgent action.

“As Professor Samuel said ‘To shy away from the fundamental reforms recommended by this Review is to accept the continued decline of our iconic places and the extinction of our most threatened plants, animals and ecosystems’.”