About the Life Saving Drugs Program

The Life Saving Drugs Program (LSDP) provides fully subsidised access to expensive essential medicines for eligible patients with rare and life-threatening diseases.

What the LSDP is

The Life Saving Drugs Program (LSDP) pays for specific essential medicines to treat patients with rare and life-threatening diseases.

Most medicines in Australia are subsidised through listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Funding for medicines on the LSDP is separate to the PBS.

The LSDP covers medicines if:

  • they are clinically effective, but not cost effective enough to list on the PBS
  • they treat life threatening and rare conditions (defined as 1 case per 50,000 people or fewer in the Australian population)
  • the pharmaceutical company (sponsor) applies for an LSDP listing.

There are currently 16 medicines available through the program, which treat 10 rare conditions.

Because these medicines are critical for patients, we assess all applications within 30 days. We process most applications in around 7 days.

LSDP medicines

This table lists the 16 medicines covered under the LSDP and the conditions they treat. Click to view LSDP guidelines and forms for each condition.

Medicine(s)

Condition

Agalsidase alfa (Replagal®)

Agalsidase beta (Fabrazyme®)

Migalastat (Galafold®)

Fabry disease

Imiglucerase (Cerezyme®)

Velaglucerase (VPRIV®)

Taliglucerase (Elelyso®)

Miglustat (Zavesca®)

Gaucher disease (type 1)

Nitisinone (Orfadin® and Nityr™)

Hereditary tyrosinaemia type 1 (HT1)

Cerliponase alfa (Brineura®)

Late-infantile onset Batten disease (CLN2)

Laronidase (Aldurazyme®)

Mucopolysaccharidosis type I (MPS I)

Idursulfase (Elaprase®)

Mucopolysaccharidosis type II (MPS II)

Elosulfase alfa (Vimizim®)

Mucopolysaccharidosis type IVA (MPSIVA)

Galsulfase (Naglazyme®)

Mucopolysaccharidosis type VI (MPS VI)

Eculizumab (Soliris®)

Paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH)

Alglucosidase alfa (Myozyme®)

Pompe disease:

  • infantile-onset
  • juvenile late-onset
  • adult late-onset.

How the LSDP works

Several groups of people work together on the LSDP program.

  • Australian Government Department of Health – we fund and administer the program, and order medicines to be delivered to the patient’s nominated pharmacy.
  • Pharmaceutical companies – apply to list relevant medicines on the LSDP, if their PBS application was rejected; supply medicines to participating pharmacies.
  • Life Saving Drugs Program Expert Panel (LSDPEP) – considers applications to list new medicines on the program; advises the Chief Medical Officer; reviews the drugs after 2 years.
  • Chief Medical Officer – recommends to the Minister for Health if a medicine should be listed on the LSDP or not.
  • Treating physicians – check if patients are eligible; prescribe the medicines; complete and submit application forms; complete the annual review paperwork.
  • Pharmacists (usually at hospitals) – dispense medicines to patients according to the program rules.
  • Patients – take the medicine according to their doctor’s instructions, and follow the program requirements about regular reviews.

Patient eligibility criteria

To get a medicine under the LSDP, you must:

  • be eligible according to the criteria in the LSDP guidelines for your condition
  • participate in regular assessment to help us check how effective the medicine is; if you do not want to participate, you must have a valid reason why not
  • not have any other medical condition that might make the drug less effective (this includes complications of the primary condition)
  • be eligible to receive Medicare benefits.

Patient reviews

We regularly review patient eligibility for the program, as set out in the relevant LSDP guidelines.

This is generally 12 months after starting the medicine, and every 12 months after that. However, the LSDPEP may ask doctors to submit patient data more often.

Doctors must send in a reapplication for each patient by 1 May every year. In 2020, we extended this deadline to 1 November due to the impact of COVID-19.

Medicines criteria and reviews

Medicines must also meet eligibility criteria to be listed on the LSDP.

The LSDPEP reviews how medicines are performing 2 years after listing. This ensures they are delivering the expected benefits and can continue to be funded.

Last updated: 
3 February 2021

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