Date published: 
24 October 2018
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The Morrison Government will invest $80 million in eye medications through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), helping improve and preserve the vision of thousands of Australians and saving them up to $7,000 a year.

From 1 November 2018, patients will get new subsidised treatment options for a range of eye conditions including Ozurdex® (dexamethasone) for the treatment of blocked veins in the retina due to a condition known as retinal vein occlusion, which leads to varying degrees of vision loss.

This medicine works by preventing and suppressing inflammation that makes the condition worse. It is expected to benefit around 3,300 patients per year and it will be provided to patients who do not achieve improvement with other medicines to treat this condition.

Without this PBS listing, this medication would cost patients around $5,000 a year for treatment or more than $1,350 per script. Under the PBS patients will pay a maximum of $39.50 per script, with concessional patients, including pensioners, paying just $6.40.

The current PBS listing for the medication Lucentis® will be expanded for patients suffering from types of choroidal neovascularization not currently covered on the PBS, a condition that is associated with unwanted growth of new blood vessels in the eye that impact vision, including due to pathological myopia (a type of extremely acute near-sightedness).

It will also be listed for other types of rare choroidal neovascularisation that is not related to aged-based macular degeneration.

This treatment is an injection in the eye and has the potential to improve a patient’s eye sight.

This listing will mean an additional 1,200 patients a year will be able to access this medicine, which would cost up to $7,000 a year for treatment without PBS subsidy. Under the PBS Australian patients will pay a maximum of $39.50 per script, with concessional patients paying only $6.40.

These conditions relate to forms of macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of legal blindness in Australia, and which is responsible for about 50 per cent of all cases of blindness.

These listings have the potential to preserve the precious sight of Australians and make it more affordable. It will make a difference to patients and their families who are battling poor and deteriorating vision due to a range of diseases.

The Morrison Government’s strong economic management means we are providing Australian patients with access to life-saving and life-changing medicines quicker than ever before.

This is in stark contrast to Labor’s approach who delayed the listing of several medicines because they couldn’t manage their own Budget.

Since coming into Government, the Coalition has helped improve the health of Australians by subsidising close to $10 billion worth of new medicines. We are now making on average one new PBS listing every single day.

The independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended the listings announced today.

The Committee is independent of Government by law and in practice. By law the Federal Government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from PBAC.

Unlike Labor, we are subsidising all drugs recommended by the independent medical experts.

In the Budget we announced our commitment to invest $2.4 billion in new medicines to build on our commitment to guarantee those essential services that all Australians rely on.

Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.