Extended PBS access to ‘important’ insulin drug

Morgan Liotta

17/03/2023 4:39:30 PM

The Government is urging patients with type 1 diabetes to obtain a GP prescription by 1 April to ensure ongoing access to Fiasp.

Insulin pack
The updated listing follows a Government announcement that Fiasp will remain on the PBS in a Supply Only state, despite the manufacturer withdrawing it.

The Federal Government has safeguarded a six-month access period to fast-acting insulin medication Fiasp and Fiasp FlexTouch on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) for people with type 1 diabetes.
The announcement comes after Novo Nordisk, the sponsor of the drug, decided to remove Fiasp from the PBS for commercial reasons from 1 April.
With around 14,000–15,000 Australians currently relying on Fiasp, Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said Novo Nordisk’s decision to withdraw the product from the PBS has been  ‘deeply disappointing and distressing’ for people with type 1 diabetes, as well as their families.
‘We know how hard it is right now to get in to see a doctor, with very little time to make alternative arrangements, and I know how deeply distressing that’s been for those families,’ Minister Butler told Nine’s 2GB radio on 17 March.
In response, Minister Mark Butler has issued a Supply Only arrangement, where the drug will be available for dispensing, but not for prescribing, from 1 April. This means that patients who already have a prescription will be able to refill their current scripts and repeat scripts at a pharmacy over the next six months.
The Government is advising those who have previously used the insulin product and do not have a current prescription to visit their GP before 1 April to ensure access through the Supply Only period, or to discuss longer-term treatment alternatives.
Dr Gary Deed, Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Diabetes, welcomed the extended access to the drug.
‘This is a sensible move from the Minister regarding what is considered an important medication for some people with insulin requiring diabetes,’ he told newsGP.
‘It may then allow time for patient transitions to be facilitated and alternative insulin supplies organised.
‘At a time when there is increased economic burden affecting people, let alone those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, the burden of needing to consider extra out-of-pocket expenditure for essential health items was a huge concern around the initial PBS withdrawal decision.’
Given the arrangement is currently for a six-month PBS extension only, Dr Deed advises that GPs conduct an audit of their patients with type 1 diabetes.
‘GPs should identify patients utilising Fiasp insulin and seek a timely consultation so they can discuss transitional support for them,’ he said.
Minister Butler said the Government will continue to work with diabetes advocacy groups and industry to ensure Australians living with type 1 diabetes will have access to fast-acting insulin beyond the Supply Only period, and ‘do everything we can’ to ensure there is an equivalent product back on the market after the six-month Supply Only arrangement expires.
‘The Government will continue to act in the best interests of Australians living with type 1 diabetes,’ he said.
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