Thousands expected to benefit from new PBS listings

Morgan Liotta

1/04/2022 2:41:11 PM

Medications for asthma, HIV, and Crohn’s disease have been added, while some heart, cholesterol and blood pressure drugs are now cheaper.

Paper prescription bag
From 1 April, Australians living with HIV, severe asthma and Crohn’s disease are among those set to benefit from new listings and reduced prices on the PBS.

The PBS has updated its listings to include new treatments for severe asthma, a long-acting HIV treatment, and lowered costs for people taking medication for heart, cholesterol and blood pressure conditions.
Fluticasone furoate with umeclidinium and vilanterol (sold as Trelegy Ellipta)
Fluticasone furoate 100 microgram/actuation + umeclidinium 62.5 microgram/actuation + vilanterol 25 microgram/actuation powder for inhalation is a three-in-one treatment of severe asthma for adults.
Indicated for the maintenance treatment of asthma in adults who are not adequately controlled with a combination of inhaled corticosteroid and a long acting beta2-agonist, the medication provides a combination of three molecules in a single inhaler that can be taken in a single inhalation, once a day.
It contains:

  • fluticasone furoate – an inhaled corticosteroid
  • umeclidinium – a long-acting muscarinic antagonist
  • vilanterol – a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist, delivered in Ellipta dry powder inhaler.
The product information states that people using the treatment must have experienced at least one severe asthma exacerbation in the 12 months prior to having first commenced treatment for severe asthma.
It is estimated that of the 2.7 million Australians with asthma, 3−10% have severe asthma, representing between 52,800 and 176,000 people.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said without the PBS subsidy, thousands of Australians with asthma might have had to pay more than $1000 per year for treatment.
Cabotegravir and rilpivirine injections (sold as Cabenuva and Vocabria)
The first long-acting treatment for Australians living with HIV bas been listed on the PBS, allowing people who had previously been taking daily medications for viral suppression to reduce their dosing to six injections per year.
Around 29,090 Australians are currently living with HIV, with many taking daily oral antiretroviral therapy.
However, cabotegravir and rilpivirine can help keep the amount of virus in the body at a low level and maintain levels of CD4+ white blood cells in the blood, without the need for daily medication.
Minister Hunt said the new PBS listing is expected to benefit around 9000 Australians each year, who without subsidy might have paid more than $17,000 per year for treatment.
Budesonide (sold as Entocort)
The medicine is available for Australians living with mild-to-moderate Crohn’s disease, and helps to reduce the symptoms caused by inflammation inside the digestive tract.
Without PBS subsidy, around 6400 patients might pay more than $480 per year of treatment, according to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
Siltuximab (sold as Sylvant)
Listed on the PBS for the first time, siltuximab is a treatment for people with idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease − the rare disorder involving an overgrowth of cells in the lymphatic system.
Idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease can occur at any age, but patients generally present with symptoms in their 50s and 60s.
According to the PBAC, around 70 Australians could have been forced pay around $135,000 per year to access treatment without the PBS subsidy.
Cost adjustments
In addition to the 1 April new listings, some amended listings have been made to the PBS as a result of the Price Disclosure Policy, where every six months prices for a range of medicines are reduced.
Medicines treating common conditions that will now be cheaper for non-concessional patients include:
  • nebivolol, for the treatment of moderate-to-severe heart failure, will be up to $5.14 cheaper per prescription for approximately 12,000 patients who are dispensed around 77,000 prescriptions per year
  • ezetimibe, for the treatment of high cholesterol, will be up to $1.39 cheaper per prescription for approximately 60,000 patients who are dispensed around 420,000 prescriptions per year
  • moxonidine, for the treatment of high blood pressure, will be up to $1.27 cheaper per prescription for approximately 35,000 patients who are dispensed around 302,000 prescriptions per year.
Minister Hunt said these reductions will save Australians more than $10 million over four years to access treatments under the general patient co-payment of $42.50.
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