Date published: 
1 June 2020
Media type: 
Media release
General public

Australians with asthma and multiple myeloma will have broader access to life changing medicines as a result of expanded medicines listings on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 June 2020.

The listing of Symbicort® (containing budesonide and formoterol) will now be available at PBS prices for adolescent and adult patients with mild asthma.

Symbicort will be available in two strengths of inhaler, Symbicort Turbuhaler® 200/6, and Symbicort Rapihaler® 100/3. 

Asthma is a common chronic condition, and can become serious, especially if untreated. Almost 400 Australians die from asthma each year.

This medicine has previously been available for patients with more severe forms of asthma.

This expanded listing is estimated to provide new treatment options for over 170,000 patients with milder forms of asthma each year.

Patients would pay around $137 per year without subsidised access through the PBS. They will now pay as little as $6.60 per script with a concession card. 

Patients with more severe forms of asthma will also benefit from the listing of a new pre-filled self-administered autoinjector pen, from 1 June.

The Nucala® pre-filled pen will be an important new treatment option for patients suffering from severe eosinophilic asthma, allowing them to self-administer their treatment at home avoiding the need to travel or attend a clinic to receive their monthly treatment.

Over 1,400 patients per year access Nucala® through the PBS and may benefit from the listing of Nucala® pre-filled pen. Without subsidy they would pay over $20,000 per year for treatment.

The listing of Revlimid® (lenalidomide) on the PBS Highly Specialised Drugs Program will also be expanded, to allow use in combination with Velcade® (bortezomib) and dexamethasone for previously untreated multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow.

It is estimated up to 2,300 patients may benefit from this listing each year, which might otherwise cost more than $64,000 per course of treatment.

Additionally, new PBS listings are being introduced for smaller maximum quantities of medicines for the treatment of short-term acute pain following surgery or injury.

The revised listings form part of a broader suite of measures to support appropriate use of opioids. These include education and awareness campaigns, changes to clinical guidelines and a national real-time prescription monitoring system.

Since 2013, the Australian Government has approved more than 2,350 new or amended listings on the PBS.

This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $11.5 billion.

The Government’s commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

All new medicines listings on the PBS are about saving and protecting lives.