New Parkinson’s drug listed on PBS

Morgan Liotta

1/02/2023 1:08:07 PM

The adjunctive therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease will help to maximise the effectiveness and longevity of existing medication.

Hands of old person
Without the PBS subsidy, patients would pay around $1800 a year for a new Parkinson’s medication.

A new medicine for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Opicapone (sold as Ongentys) has been listed for the first time as additional therapy to improve the efficacy and longevity of other Parkinson’s medications.
It is estimated that there are currently more than 200,000 Australians living with the disease, and approximately 38 new cases diagnosed every day.
After dementia, Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease in Australia, and with an ageing population, the number of newly diagnosed cases is expected to double over the coming decades, placing further burden on the healthcare system.
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler says that with around 1300 people accessing a comparable treatment for Parkinson’s disease via the PBS in 2022, expanded access to the medicine is an important step.
‘Opicapone provides an additional treatment option for those living with Parkinson’s disease,’ he said.
‘Parkinson’s disease onset is generally gradual and early symptoms can be unnoticed, but as people living with this disease would be all too aware it causes significant disability and reduces the quality of life for the patient, their family and carers.’
Without subsidy these patients could expect to pay around $1800 a year for treatment with opicapone.
The Federal Government implemented its cheaper medicines policy on 1 January, reducing the cost of medicines under the PBS by up to 29% – the biggest cut to the price of medicines since the PBS was introduced 75 years ago.
Under this new policy, opicapone will cost $30 per script, or $7.30 with a concession card.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved opicapone as an ‘adjunctive therapy’ to preparations of levodopa/DOPA decarboxylase inhibitors (DDCI) in adult patients with Parkinson’s disease and end-of-dose motor fluctuations who cannot be stabilised on those combinations.
‘Opicapone is a peripheral, selective and reversible catechol-O-methyltransferase [COMT] inhibitor endowed with a high binding affinity [sub-picomolar] that translates into a slow complex dissociation rate constant and a long duration of action [>24 hours] in vivo,’ the TGA states.
‘In the presence of a DDCI, COMT becomes the major metabolising enzyme for levodopa, catalysing its conversion to 3-O-methyldopa [3-OMD] in the brain and periphery.
‘In patients taking levodopa and a peripheral DDCI, such as carbidopa or benserazide, opicapone increases levodopa plasma levels thereby improving the clinical response to levodopa.’
Other changes to the PBS from 1 February
Changes to the following morphine and oxycodone oral solutions have also been made to allow volumes smaller than a whole bottle to be dispensed at PBS-subsidised prices:

  • Morphine hydrochloride trihydrate 2 mg per mL, 200 mL
  • Morphine hydrochloride trihydrate 5 mg per mL, 200 mL
  • Morphine hydrochloride trihydrate 10 mg per mL, 200 mL
  • Oxycodone hydrochloride 1 mg per mL, 250 mL
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