PBS listing to help prevent invasive fungal infections

Thousands of patients suffering from invasive fungal infections will benefit from a new listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 January 2009.

Page last updated: 01 January 2009

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Embargo: 1 am, 1 January 2009

Thousands of patients suffering from invasive fungal infections will benefit from a new listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 January 2009.

Posaconazole (Noxafil®) has been subsidised for patients using the medication for the prevention and treatment of invasive fungal infections.

These infections are rare but life-threatening, and are caused by yeasts, moulds and fungi in the body.

The listing of posaconazole will fill the need for a safe, effective, and broad spectrum preventative antifungal agent for use in all patients who are at a high-risk of developing invasive fungal infections.

It provides protection against species of fungi not controlled by other PBS-subsidised therapies.

In a healthy individual, invasive fungal infections are prevented by the protection provided by the skin and the linings of the organs, as well as immune system cells.

Certain medical conditions and procedures may damage the lining of the organs and the intestines, or suppress the immune system, which significantly increases the risk of invasive fungal infections.

This includes a low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy, haematopoietic stem cell transplant, Graft-Versus-Host-Disease, and high-dose corticosteroid use.

About 2,300 additional people will benefit from the new listing in the first full financial year of listing.

The listings of posaconazole will add about $39.2 million to PBS and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme expenditure between 2008-09 and 2011-12.

Patients with breast cancer and patients with diabetes are also expected to benefit from a new PBS listing and the additional listings of a range of diagnostic products to allow for up to 12 months supply.

From 1 January 2009, ibandronic acid 50 mg tablets (Bondronat®) will be listed on the PBS to broaden the treatment options available to patients with bone metastases (bone secondary cancer) from breast cancer.

There are no expected cost implications for the PBS as a result of this listing, as this medicine will serve existing patients.

From today, a range of diagnostic agents for diabetes will be able to be prescribed through the PBS for up to 12 months, instead of six months as previously.

Today’s listings complement other medicines that may be prescribed for up to 12 months, which were listed on 1 November and 1 December 2008. These listings reflect the 2008-09 Budget measure to allow certain medical products used for the treatment of chronic illnesses to be prescribed through the PBS for up to 12 months.

Information about medicines subsidised by the Government through the PBS is available at www.pbs.gov.au

Media contact: Kay McNiece, Dept of Health and Ageing, 0412 132 585

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