Community News

$27 million for new PBS medicines

The Government will invest $27 million to provide affordable access to three new medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), helping Australians living with complications following stroke, fighting cancer, and experiencing syphilis in northern, central and southern Australia.

The September 1 PBS listings includeD amending the current listing for Opdivo® (Nivolumab) for the treatment of melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

Patients will be able to access these medicines for $40.30 per script and $6.50 per script for patients with a concession card.

Opdivo belongs to a new class of immunotherapy medicines which supercharge the body’s immune system, to fight and kill cancer. Without subsidy, patients would pay up to $254,200 per course.

Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan said the latest listings would help Australians in poor health, “when they need it most.”

“Opdivo aims to give cancer patients renewed hope for recovery. The PBS subsidy will deliver relief for patients, families and communities,” Mr Hogan said.

“The listings of Botox and Bicillin L-A, in addition to Opdivo, demonstrate the Government’s commitment to helping more Australians experiencing health challenges.”

Botox® (Botulinum Toxin Type A) will have its current PBS listing extended, to include adults with lower limb focal spasticity following a stroke. Botox temporarily relaxes muscles that are overactive or contracting.

More than 2,800 patients per year are expected to benefit from this listing. Without PBS subsidy, patients would pay more than $5,400 per year for this treatment.

As part of the Government’s contribution to the enhanced response to the outbreak of syphilis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations in northern, central and southern Australia, the current PBS listing of Bicillin L-A® (Benzatheine Benzylpenicillin) will be extended and available through the Emergency Drug Supply Schedule (Prescriber Bag).

The listing means eligible patients will receive this treatment free of charge.

Listing Bicillin L-A® is an important measure to address the outbreak by supporting the timely treatment of syphilis in non-remote settings for Aboriginal communities, creating a mechanism for these health services to have stock on site, and/or obtain supply for patients in advance of a consultation.

Since the start of the outbreak in 2011 to 31 May 2019, there have been 2,786 cases of infectious syphilis, and 16 congenital syphilis cases linked to the outbreak regions of northern and central Australia.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said the listings of all three medicines was another step forward in the Government’s plan to deliver all Australians with world-class health care. 

“This $27 million investment is about affordability, accessibility and ultimately helping all Australians fighting ill-health experience a better quality of life,” Minister Hunt said.

 All of these PBS listings were recommended by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

 Since 2013, the Government has listed over 2,100 new or amended items on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings per month – or one each day – at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.