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New listings on PBS

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Patients requiring growth hormones or suffering from diabetes, glaucoma, or a rare soft tissue cancer will feel some welcome help in the hip pocket, with the Federal Government approving new medicines for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said the PBS subsidies would make the medicines more affordable for Australians who needed them.

Diabetes patients will benefit from two combination medicines which have been listed: linagliptin with metformin (sold as Trajenta Duo®), and saxagliptin with metformin (sold as Kombiglyze®).

“Patients already had access to the individual medicines through the PBS, but many people need to use two medicines together to treat their diabetes,” Mr Dutton said.

“With the combination dose now listed on the PBS, these patients will save up to $36.90 every time they get a script filled because they will only have to buy one fixed dose medicine, instead of two.”

People suffering from advanced soft tissue sarcoma will also have access to cheaper treatment with the listing of Pazopanib (sold as Votrient®) on the PBS.

“Patients with this rare cancer would pay around $21,000 per treatment cycle for pazopanib without subsidised access through the PBS,” Mr Dutton said.

“The Government believes that Australians should have access to new medicines through the PBS as soon as possible after they are proven.”

The Minister also announced changes to the PBS Growth Hormone Program, which treats almost 1,900 children and adolescents in Australia.

The program is being extended to cover certain patients with hypothalamic-pituitary disease, who have a biochemical growth hormone deficiency.

This means that patients will be able to access higher doses of growth hormone through the program, if it is deemed clinically appropriate.

“Access to higher doses of growth hormone will especially help older children who have limited opportunity for further treatment before their skeleton has matured,” Mr Dutton said.

The new additions to the PBS come as pharmaceutical lobby group, Medicines Australia, seeks to head off any cuts to the subsidy scheme by arguing that government expenditure on the PBS is not only sustainable but actually fell last financial year.

It said that a PBS scorecard update from Medicines Partnership Australia, released in February, outlines the current state of PBS spending, as confirmed by the Department of Health, the Federal Treasury, and the Productivity Commission.

They said the scorecard confirmed that PBS expenditure is contained and that price disclosure is delivering savings far in excess of what was expected.

Debra Vermeer