Budget to deliver better access to life changing medicines for liver cancer, eye conditions and Parkinson’s disease

Australians suffering from liver cancer, myopia and Parkinson’s disease will soon have new treatment options, with amended PBS listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) coming into effect.

In Tuesday’s Budget, the Morrison Government will provide significant investment for new medicines including over $230 million to expand the listing Tecentriq® and Avastin® (atezolizumab and bevacizumab) on the PBS for use in combination to treat patients with advanced unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma.

Unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form of liver cancer, which often occurs in people with other chronic liver diseases. It also has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancer types.

From 1 November, more than 500 patients per year could benefit from PBS listing of this treatment, which would otherwise cost more than $170,000 per course.

Australia will be the first country in the world to have this combination treatment publically funded for this type of liver cancer.

This PBS listing has been implemented only two months after TGA registration, after it was assessed through the new TGA provisional approval pathway and considered for funding in parallel by the expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

The PBAC recommended this treatment be funded because of its significant benefits for patients with liver cancer and the high clinical need for this targeted therapy.

As at 1 October, PBS listings are now helping Australians living with eye conditions and Parkinson’s disease:

  • Eylea® (aflibercept) will be expanding the listing for the treatment of subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation due to pathologic myopia. This condition is associated with unwanted growth of new blood cells in the eye that impact vision through a type of extremely acute near-sightedness. Without PBS subsidy, approximately 500 patients could benefit and would otherwise pay more than $5,000 per year of treatment
  • Apomine Solution for Infusion® and Apomine Intermittent® (apomorphine) for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease will be extended, to include access to maintenance treatment through community pharmacy in addition to hospitals. Without PBS subsidy, patients could pay more than $7,500 per script for this medication.

These listings were all recommended by the independent PBAC.

Since 2013, the Australian Government has approved more than 2,450 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 $11.8 billion.

Also from 1 October, treatments for high cholesterol and almost 20 other widely used medicines will be cheaper as a result of price disclosure policy, designed to ensure the PBS is sustainable and affordable for decades to come.

Under our Government’s price disclosure policy, 18 medicines sold as 224 brands listed on the PBS will be up to $6.02 cheaper for general (non-concessional) patients as at 1 October 2020.

Two medicines for high cholesterol, ezetimibe and rosuvastatin, are among the medicines which will be cheaper.

Around 60,000 patients per year will now pay $25.69 per script for 10 mg tablets of ezetimibe, a saving of up to $5.21 per script.

Around 300,000 patients per year will now pay $15.42 per script for 10 mg capsules of rosuvastatin, a saving of up to $2.13 per script.

In total, Australians will save $40 million for medicines priced below the general patient co‑payment of $41.

Unlike Labor, we are listing all medicines recommended by the medical experts on the PBAC. In 2011, Labor stopped listing medicines on the PBS because they could not manage the economy.

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

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