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PBS to provide access to life-saving MS and cancer medicines


Morgan Liotta


29/10/2020 2:47:23 PM

New medicines for multiple sclerosis and various cancers will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 November.

Close up of PBS website on laptop
Patients receiving treatment for MS, and lymphoma, carcinoma and reproductive cancers will benefit from the new PBS listings.

Under recommendation by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will introduce and expand a number of listings from 1 November.
 
The listings will provide greater access to potentially life-saving medicine treatments for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as various forms of cancer.
 
MS medicine
MS is the most commonly acquired neurological disease in younger adults, with most people diagnosed between the ages of 20–40. More than 25,600 Australians currently live with MS, and 75% of those are female.
 
Although there are a number of treatment options available, there is currently no known cure for MS.
 
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says there is ‘a high clinical need for effective treatments for patients with progressive forms of relapse onset MS’.
 
Siponimod ­(sold as Mayzent) will be listed on the PBS for the first time to treat patients with secondary progressive MS.
 
With average out-of-pocket costs of more than $25,000 per year, the PBS estimates around 800 patients will benefit from this listing each year.
 
With PBS subsidy, patients will pay $41 per prescription of siponimod, or $6.60 with a concession card.
 
Lymphoma, carcinoma and reproductive cancer medicines
Methoxsalen (sold as Uvadex) will be listed on the PBS for the first time for treatment of patients with erythrodermic cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) who have not responded to other treatments.
 
CTCL is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that affects the skin and causes an accumulation of malignant T-cells in the skin. It most common in adults aged 40–60 years.
 
Around 75 Australians per year will receive PBS-subsidised access to the new medication and specialised treatment for CTCL, which would otherwise cost them more than $3400 a year.
 
Uvadex will be introduced alongside two new items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from 1 November for the use of extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) in combination with the medicine to treat the condition, as recommended by the Medical Services Advisory Committee.
 
These include:
 

  • item 14247 – ECP for the first six months of treatment for CTCL administered under the supervision of a specialist or consultant physician in the speciality of haematology, with a schedule fee of $1908.35
  • item 14249 – ECP for after the first six months of treatment for CTCL administered under the supervision of a specialist or consultant physician in the speciality of haematology, with a schedule fee of $1908.35.
 
Announced in the 2020–21 Federal Budget, PBS listings of atezolizumab (sold as Tecentriq) and bevacizumab (sold as Avastin) were expanded for use in combination to treat patients with advanced unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma – the most common type of primary liver cancer.
 
An average of 500 patients per year may benefit from the listings, which would otherwise cost them up to $170,000 for a course of treatment.
 
Olaparib (sold as Lynparza) is used for the treatment of newly diagnosed, advanced high-grade epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancers.
 
With the expanded PBS listing, an average of 300 patients per year, who would normally pay around $140,500 per course of treatment, are expected to benefit.
 
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