Clearer vision for Australians with expanded listing of new drug

Patients with a range of serious eye conditions now have affordable access to life-changing medicines that normally cost up to $10,000 for treatment.

Page last updated: 24 July 2015

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24 July 2015

Patients with a range of serious eye conditions now have affordable access to life-changing medicines that normally cost up to $10,000 for treatment, Minister for Health Sussan Ley has announced.

Ms Ley said taxpayers would invest $541 million in listing Lucentis to treat diabetic macular oedema and retinal vein occlusion that, similar to age-related macular degeneration, can lead to blindness. This is another example of the Abbott Government delivering on its promise to list new medicines as quickly as possible.

Ms Ley said that 18,000 Australian patients will now pay just $6.10 (concessional) or $37.70 (general) for Lucentis as a result of the expanded listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme on 1 July 2015. This listing increases the total taxpayer investment in medicines that treat eye conditions to $1.5 billion over four years.

“Access to new medicines is crucial if we’re to help Australians beat life-threatening diseases, as well as overcome chronic and degenerative conditions that can rob them of their independence,” Ms Ley said.

“This $541 million investment will deliver affordable access to patients who would otherwise pay up to $10,000 per year for these life-saving treatments for diabetic macular oedema and retinal vein occlusion.

“In fact, the Abbott Government has already listed double the number of drugs compared to Labor’s last term in office and in half the time, and that investment is only going to continue to grow.”

Ms Ley said the Abbott Government has now more-than-doubled the number of new and amended drug listings on the PBS to over 660 – worth almost $3 billion in total since September 2013 – when compared to Labor’s 331 listings during their last three-year term in office

Ms Ley said today’s announcement also demonstrated the importance of the Abbott Government’s PBS Reform Package, which recently passed the Senate.

“Meeting community expectations that new drugs will be listed quickly also comes at a significant cost, with taxpayers expected to invest $50 billion making medicines more affordable for patients over the next five years alone.

“Our PBS reform package ensures spending on existing medicines is as efficient as possible so we can continue to list new drugs such as these as well.”

Ms Ley said diabetic macular oedema is a complication of diabetes and retinal vein occlusion is a blockage of the vessel which drains blood out of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye and if left untreated both conditions can lead to severe vision loss and blindness.

“Lucentis is effective in slowing or stopping the progression of these degenerative conditions,” Ms Ley said.

“Without treatment for these conditions patients can suffer severe loss of vision and blindness and therefore lose their independence.”

This new listing will assist approximately 12,000 patients per year with diabetic macular oedema and 6,000 patients per year with retinal vein occlusion.

Patients can now speak to their doctor to see if this medicine is appropriate for them. PBS listings are published on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits and accessible through the PBS website.

ENDS

Minister Ley’s Media Contact: James Murphy – 0478 333 974

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