From 1 October 2021, Australians with multiple sclerosis (MS), multiple myeloma, macular degeneration and keratitis will have access to new and expanded medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), reducing the cost of treatment for patients and their families.
Kesimpta® (ofatumumab) will be listed on the PBS to treat patients with relapsing-remitting MS. Relapsing-remitting is the most common form of MS with 70 to 75 per cent of people with MS at some point suffering from the relapsing-remitting stage of the disease.
MS is the most commonly acquired neurological disease in younger adults. More than 25,600 Australians live with MS and more than two million people are diagnosed worldwide. The average age of diagnosis is between 20 to 40 years and on average three times as many women have MS as men.
Without PBS subsidy, around 500 Australians might pay more than $28,000 per year for treatment.
Also from 1 October 2021, subsided access to Beovu® (brolucizumab) will be available for the first time to treat people with wet age-related macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic disease of the macula. It’s the most common macular disease in Australia. AMD is responsible for half of all blindness and severe vision loss in this country.
Patients who have not responded to first-line anti-vascular endothelial growth factor treatment will now have access to this new treatment option. Without PBS subsidy, around 12,800 Australians might pay more than $8,800 per year for this new treatment option.
The PBS listing of Pomalyst® (pomalidomide) will also be extended from 1 October 2021, to include use in combination with bortezomib and dexamethasone for the treatment of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma in patients who have been previously treated with lenalidomide.
Representing Australia’s third most common blood cancer (after lymphoma and leukaemia), approximately 18,000 Australians are living with multiple myeloma at any given time. Myeloma is a type of cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow.
Without PBS subsidy, around 210 patients per year might pay more than $72,600 per course of treatment.
Ikervis® (ciclosporin) will also be made available from October 1 2021 for the treatment of severe keratitis with dry eye disease. Severe keratitis is inflammation of the cornea and is characterised by damage or lesions on the corneal surface.
Dry eye disease is a common ocular condition that is characterised by dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea. Patients with dry eye disease experience reduced tear production or tear film instability, which leads to discomfort and visual disability.
Without PBS subsidy, around 7,500 patients might pay more than $900 per year of treatment.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said these medicines will improve thousands of lives and without listing, the medicines would cost Australians suffering from these conditions much more.
“Since 2013, the Coalition Government had approved more than 2,700 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 $13.8 billion,” Minister Hunt said.
“Without PBS subsidies many Australians would be thousands of dollars out of pocket, instead they’ll only pay $41.30 per script or $6.60 with a concession card for these medicines.
“The Morrison Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.”
These PBS listings have been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.