Life Saving Drugs Program for patients

Patients with certain rare diseases can access fully subsidised life-saving medicines under the Life Saving Drugs Program. Find out how to get medicines through the program and what your responsibilities are.

Accessing medicine through the LSDP

If you are eligible, you can get certain medicines subsidised under the Life Saving Drugs Program (LSDP).

Your treating physician will fill in the LSDP application forms and submit them to us.

Your treating physician must provide copies of all required test results as evidence of your condition. These results must be less than 12 months old.

You can view the application forms and other relevant documents for your condition:

How we assess the application

After your treating physician sends us the application, we check and process it. We may seek internal clinical advice for complex applications.

We tell your treating physician our decision within a maximum of 30 days.

If we approve the application, your treating physician must reapply for you every year to keep your treatment going.

For more details about the application process, see LSDP for prescribers.

How your medicine gets to you

Once approved, we order your medicine directly from the supplier. They will ship your medicine to a hospital pharmacy, or other pharmacy of your choice, to dispense to you.

Due to the high cost of LSDP medicines, we only order 1 month’s supply of medicine at a time.

Picking up your medicine

Other people can pick up your LSDP medicines if need be. Examples include:

  • patient caregivers
  • guardians
  • contract nurses (for example, for home infusion).

If you are receiving treatment at a hospital, suppliers can also send LSDP medicine directly to the hospital unit, just before you attend (as per hospital procedure).

Storing your medicine

Please ensure that you store your LSDP medicine according to the instructions in the product information. Your pharmacist can give you the medicine’s product information leaflet.   

If you do not store your medicine correctly, it may not be safe to use or may not work as expected. In this situation, due to the high cost of these medicines, we may consider restricting supply to minimise extra costs to the Government.  

If you are concerned about how your medicine has been transported, used or stored, please tell your treating physician immediately.  

Changing hospital pharmacy

Contact your treating physician if you want to change your hospital pharmacy. Your treating physician must have prescribing rights for that hospital, and the nominated pharmacy must agree to provide LSDP medicines.  

If the treating physician does not have prescribing rights at that hospital, they may arrange for a proxy to prescribe for them.  

The treating physician must then tell us, so we can order stock to go to the new location.  

Using a community pharmacy

You can use a community pharmacy if they agree to provide LSDP medicines according to the program’s requirements.  

Please speak to your treating physician if you want to use a community pharmacy.  

Using the home infusion service

Please contact your treating physician if you want to start home infusions. The home infusion service is only available for some LSDP medicines.

For more details about the dispensing process, see LSDP for pharmacists.

Costs

The Australian Government provides LSDP medicines at no cost to the patient. LSDP medicines are not part of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), so PBS patient co-payments do not apply. 

Your pharmacy might charge you a fee for cold transport and handling of your medicines as required. They must tell you about this cost up front and you must agree to it before the pharmacy dispenses the LSDP medicines. They cannot charge you any other co-payment or fee.

Annual treatment review and tests

Every patient receiving LSDP medicines must be reviewed every year. This makes sure that patients are:

  • still eligible for the program
  • taking the medicine as prescribed
  • responding to the medicine in the expected way.

Each disease has different tests that should be done each year. We state the required tests in the LSDP guidelines for each condition.  

Your treating physician must submit certain test results to us, along with a signed reapplication form showing you are still eligible for funding. If you have any concerns about why certain tests are needed, or how often, discuss this with your treating physician. They can then tell us about it.

You must sign a privacy and data consent form each year as part of the reapplication process.  

Your treating physician must submit your reapplication to us by 1 May each year, unless we advise otherwise. See Annual reapplication for existing patients for more.

Your obligations

To stay eligible for subsidised medicines through the LSDP, you must:  

  • continue to regularly see your treating physician during your treatment
  • take your medicines as prescribed by your treating physician
  • tell your treating physician immediately if you start to experience any adverse effects while using your LSDP medicine
  • take any required tests for reapplication each year
  • store your LSDP medicine (where applicable) according to the instructions on the labelling or leaflet accompanying the medicine
  • tell your treating general practitioner and/or treating physician if you believe your medicine may be compromised in any way
  • continue to qualify for Medicare (be an Australian citizen or permanent resident).

If you want to travel

You will need your treating physician’s authorisation to travel, if that travel affects your access to the LSDP medicine you are taking.

See Patient travel for details on what you and your treating physician need to do.

Your feedback

We welcome your feedback about the program. You can have your say on submissions for new medicines, or medicine reviews.

The Life Saving Drugs Program Expert Panel (LSDPEP) welcomes input from the public, including patients, carers, family members, treating physicians and advocates. You can email your input to the LSDPEP secretariat after we publish the agenda 4 weeks before the relevant meeting. We must receive your input by 2 weeks before the meeting.

We keep your input confidential if you ask us to. See full details of the consumer submission process in our procedure guidance.

All stakeholder comments received throughout the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) process are sent to the LSDPEP. If you made a submission for the PBAC process, you do not need to do it again.

Resources

Read our printable patient information handout.

See LSDP resources for more guidelines, forms and documents related to the program.

Life Saving Drugs Program – Information for patients

Health professionals can print this fact sheet and give it to patients who are starting treatment under the Life Saving Drugs Program.

Last updated: 
3 February 2021

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