10 new medicines listed on PBS

19 March, 2014

Ten new medicines to treat a range of illnesses from rare forms of cancer to skin conditions will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 April.

Minister for Health Peter Dutton in a recent statement said improved access to these medicines would benefit many Australians and particularly families with sick children.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes will benefit from expanded access to several newer diabetes medicines, known as 'gliptins'.

"These medicines will have expanded access on the PBS allowing patients that require treatment with multiple medicines for diabetes to access innovative new treatments earlier," Dutton said.

A drug to treat arthritis in children – tocilzumab (sold as Actemera) – will be listed considerably lowering the cost to families whose children rely on the treatment for juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Another medicine, tobramycin (sold as Tobi Podhaler) has also been approved for listing on the PBS in powder form for the treatment of a bacterial lung infection (pseudomonas aeruginosa) that commonly affects cystic fibrosis patients.

"It means patients will have subsidised access to the powder form of the medicine, which can be used with a transportable inhaler device," Dutton said.

"The listing of the powder form of tobramycin on the PBS will help reduce the treatment burden for patients – many of them children – who already have a time consuming and complex treatment regime."

Other new and amended listings approved for the PBS include: Temozolomide (Temodal) for the treatment of brain tumour (glioblastoma multiforme); Denosumab (sold as Xgeva) for the treatment of giant cell tumour of bone; Dolutegravir (sold as Tivicay) for the treatment of HIV; Panitumumab (sold as Vectibix) for the treatment of colorectal cancer; Clobetasol propionate (sold as Clobex) and betamethasone calcipotriol (Daivobet) for the treatment of scalp psoriasis (skin disorder); and Infliximab (Remicade) for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Price changes for a number of PBS medicines also take effect on 1 April.

"Prices will reduce for 121 drugs including major price cuts to several cancer treatments and medicines for gastric reflux, depression and high cholesterol," Dutton said.

Common medicines which will be cheaper to consumers from 1 April include: Rabeprazole for gastric reflux, up to $8.78 cheaper per script, saving consumers around $7 million a year; and Simvastatin for high cholesterol, up to $5.18 cheaper per script, saving patients around $2.6 million a year.

All PBS listings are subject to final arrangements being met by the suppliers of the medicine.